There are a few moments each week where I forget about the realities of the pandemic. Sometimes it is when my community is laughing around the dinner table, or when we are deep in work on a homeowner’s porch, or just even in the simple moments of bird watching. These are the times when I can say, “the Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.”
But often throughout the week, I want so much more. I grapple with the want to celebrate with friends who are now engaged or pregnant or starting new jobs. I want to be with our elderly neighbor who loves to talk about the history of our little community and her grandchildren. I want to welcome home to Nazareth Farm hundreds of high school students this summer to learn about the richness of Appalachia and see God alive in service. I want to go visit my family and give them a hug. I want, I want, I want, I want.
But throughout the Gospel, and especially in the Easter season, Jesus calls us to stop wanting what the world has and to look towards Him for salvation. I love the image in the Gospel of sheep knowing their shepherd’s voice and following it. In these uncertain days, I hear God’s voice clearly calling even in the differentness. While we are not working side by side with our neighbors, we are still spending time calling those who are lonely and sharing a little hope. We are now focusing more on being one with God’s creation while tending our gardens, discovering ways to be better stewards. And our summer retreat program is being tailored for a virtual audience so young people can still be challenged to live justly in today’s world.
While it may not always be easy, I am grateful for a God who shared our humanity and taught us how to live an abundant life.
Allyson Petry is the director of Nazareth Farm, a small, intentional Catholic community living and working in rural West Virginia. When not behind a desk, she enjoys joining her staff on home repair projects and visiting neighbors.