Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?Psalm 139:7
This Thanksgiving, Nathan and I traveled home to Pennsylvania to visit our families. We were so blessed to spend so much time with his family and mine after being away from home for months. Of course, because we’re still in the middle of a pandemic with cases rising, I had to self-isolate for 72 hours, take a Covid test, and wait for negative results when Nathan took me back to Washington DC.
I don’t like to refer to this time as “quarantine” because I wasn’t actually sick. I prefer the term “isolation” because I had to be alone for a while, away from my community as much as possible, in the unlikely event that I caught the virus. Fortunately, my test result came back negative, as I expected that it would. By the time my result came back, I had spent nearly a week in isolation.
Hidden with God
In a way, isolation was incredibly lonely. I couldn’t spend time with my community, and they rarely talked to me or checked on me. If I hadn’t FaceTimed my family and Nathan every other night, I would have gone crazy from the lack of social interaction. Although I had to be physically isolated from people, I grew ever closer to God during my period of isolation.
It’s easy for me to make excuses about not praying as much as I should. My most common ones are, “I’m too busy,” and “I don’t have enough time.” In isolation, all I really had to do was work from home. I couldn’t help with cooking, dishes, or chores, let alone leave my room, so I had more time and was more free to do whatever I wanted. I spent some of my time blogging, writing letters, and calling loved ones on FaceTime, but the most rewarding and fruitful thing I did during isolation was improve my prayer life. I began my isolation by beginning the St. Andrew Christmas Novena and starting my 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian Consecration renewal. I kept delving into Scripture, reading 1 John and 2 John. God’s Word continues to capture my heart, so I took my time with reading, contemplating, and journaling about it.
Even when I was isolated I still felt close to God. As I had to separate myself from my community, I knew that I could cling to my Heavenly Father. I could never be truly isolated from Him because of His constant presence. During my week by myself, He comforted me and embraced me in His love. Isolation wasn’t always pleasant, but when I turned to my Father in prayer, I happily dwelt there. In a way, I felt like He was isolated with me. Like my chapel veils help me to be hidden with Jesus during Mass, I felt hidden with Him in my upper room, and I cherished our moments alone together.
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Creating and Sharing a Special Space
Now that Covid cases are rising, non-essential businesses and non-profits are shifting to remote work. After a discussion with FMS, the other two associates and I decided to work from home three days a week. At first, I thought I would resent this option. From my time in isolation, I learned that I’m more productive in the office and I can focus more on my work in that designated space. Now, I’m glad that I can work from home because I have more time to pray.
During Advent, we reflect on what it means to prepare the way for the Lord. Generally, this looks like making our homes and hearts ready for the most important One to come to be with us. We make space for Him, clean it up, and make it lovely and special. With my deepening prayer life, my room has become a special space for the Lord, and He and I dwell there together. In the morning, I light a candle, sip some tea, and read and reflect on His Word. When I’m done with work, I look out the window to watch the sunset with Him while I pray the Rosary. Now that all the leaves are off the trees, I can see the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception through my bedroom window. The closeness of the Basilica is one of the many ways that I feel Jesus near.
Always Abiding with Him
The surprises of 2020 have taught me many lessons, one of them being there’s nowhere I can go where the Lord isn’t already. He’s always close to me, which is the most perfect gift. Remembering this truth reminds me to abide in Him in all things, like He encourages us to do in John 15. My prayer this Advent is that we can draw ever nearer to Jesus. May He soften our hearts and open them up so that He can abide in us.
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