Healing Amidst Coronavirus Crisis 3/22/2020
Michael D. Hoffman, Founder
Healing from my wounds of childhood sexual abuse, I take comfort in regular and predictable routines at home, work, socially and at Church.
With the Coronavirus, the shelter-in-place order, the near-constant disruption of regular life patterns, and what seems as all bad news predicted to get worse before it gets better, I am fully aware of my own brokenness. I feel unsettled and anxious, and I know it runs deeper into familiar painful feelings from abuse.
I have a deep concern for other survivors of any kind of abuse that they might feel unsettled and anxious, like I do. So, I’d like to offer a message of hope in the midst of real despair.
On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, I viewed the taped Mass celebrated by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich from Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. Additionally, I live-streamed Mass celebrated by Father Aidan O’Boyle, our former Administrator at St. Mary of the Woods, also in Chicago.
During his homily, Cardinal Cupich spoke about healing in all aspects of our lives. He spoke about the man in the Gospel reading, born blind, who literally had zero points of reference in his life for his next step, his next meal, and how to survive each day. Yet Jesus brought healing to him.
I can relate to this story. At first, I heard the Cardinal’s words from the perspective of a survivor of childhood abuse. I have felt alone and abandoned as a childhood sexual-abuse survivor, similar to how the blind man would feel.
Getting through and surviving each day is my daily reality, and so many other childhood trauma survivor’s daily reality, too. It can be a hard and tiring ordeal.
Yet, with God’s grace, I have also accepted healing from my wife, my family, and my friends. Looking past my own lens, I see that, as all of us cope with the impact of Coronavirus and the related feelings of isolation, each of us has zero points of reference in this new reality which causes us all to feel unsettled. I am not the only one who may be able to relate to this story.
Jesus took small actions: spitting on dirt, making a paste, coming close to the man, applying the paste to his eyes. In a true miracle, He caused the man to see. The blind man was healed. He was not abandoned and alone, after all. He now had points of reference to re-orient his life.
I appreciate Cardinal Cupich reminding me that I, and all of us, are not alone. Even in this time of despair, God is with us. God offers us healing. From the perspective of a childhood-abuse survivor, I am comforted by these words, and I feel their impact in my heart. I hope other abuse survivors can be comforted as well.
There was another Mass, and more inspiration for me on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
I live-streamed Mass offered in St. Muredach’s Cathedral, in Ballina of the County Mayo in Ireland. It was celebrated by the former Administrator of St. Mary of the Woods, Father Aidan O’Boyle. During his opening welcome, he also welcomed us from his former parish. I felt like I belonged there.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent this year fell on Mother’s Day in Ireland, and Father O’Boyle acknowledged all mothers, including three mothers who recently had died in our parish in Chicago.
In my living room chair a world away, streaming Mass in Ireland, I sat with tears in my eyes, comforted by Fr. O’Boyle’s thoughtfulness – and how connected he could make us feel despite distances in miles.
During his homily, Father O’Boyle shared how hope is contagious. In an era of pandemic when contagion is what everyone avoids, the idea hope, something so life-giving, being contagious was amazing. Hope is contagious! I believe that!
I’d like to share hope with all abuse survivors. You are not alone. You are not abandoned. Even in this dark and unsettled time, you are worth care and love. Please take time for yourself and your needs.
Hope and healing is possible, even now. My thoughts and daily prayers are with survivors of abuse. Stay safe and be well.