For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)
Like waves that caress the shores and then return to the vast ocean, our lives seem to come and go incessantly from darkness to light, from tribulation to joy, from anxiety to peace. The wisdom that we acquire through the years is the result of our adaptability to this continuous harmony of extreme tones, this disconcerting concert of radiance and shadows.
2020 has certainly been a year of tough challenges for humankind. In the middle of so much suffering, we are given the options to take either the low or the high road. Sometimes despair comes abruptly at us, giving us little opportunity to select the direction of our next steps. But we have the option to choose how we respond to this moment of tribulation and uncertainty.
Jesus reminds us that the first commandment is to love God; then to love others as we love ourselves. How many times do we actually stop to think how much we do love ourselves? And…how do we express this self-love? Do we confuse our need and rights for respect and dignity, with an egocentric attitude where we choose to always be first and receive more than others? To manifest love to ourselves, we need to treat our minds, spirits and bodies with the uttermost care, eliminating corrupting habits, acting responsibly, and seeking openness to God so we may become prisms that radiate his love to his children.
The pandemic, which has pushed us to be more isolated, has given us an opportunity to examine our internal motives, our identity, our likes and dislikes, and especially, our appreciation for that which we previously took for granted. Yes, it has been a time for suffering and despair, but it has also been a time where the best angels of our nature come afloat into the realm of shared love, compassion, charity and fraternity. This is what makes us human in the eyes of our Creator. We speak the language of God, the language of love, when we open our doors so that our soul becomes a vessel where the Holy Spirit can reside. The more love we receive and share, the less fear we harbor internally. Without fear, we can openly laugh and cry. Even crying sweet tears reflects to God our vulnerability as his children: He is moved by our ups and downs and follows us closely to prevent us from giving up.
When the pandemic becomes a thing of the past, the time to embrace without restraints will return. We must make a decision now to love and be loved, to eliminate hatred, fear and anxiety, to take special care of our own selves, our families and our communities with deep respect, and exemplify with our thoughts and actions what we want others to emulate.
Let’s make 2021 the time of healing, the time of peace, the time where we have finally learned to love ourselves and our environment, and the time to build a better world for the new generations. Let’s pray that our God of infinite love continues to bless our lives with the virtues of the Holy Spirit and help us maintain strong faith in His promises.
Fernando Dangond, MD, was born in Colombia, South America. He and his wife, Monica, live in Weston, MA, and have been blessed with two sons Daniel and David and a beautiful daughter, Christina (the inspiration behind Build the Faith) who left to be with the Lord 2 years ago.
Dr. Dangond, is a neurologist and scientist who works for a pharmaceutical company developing medicines to treat devastating neurological diseases.