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Planning the day after the election

First slide

I’ve had column space here for more than 25 years. I know the rules. This will not be an election column. It’s not allowed. A diocesan paper cannot have even the slightest hint of campaigning in it. I’ve tried to write “issues without endorsements” previously and still, it didn’t pass muster. So, this time, let’s just skip the election altogether and write the post-election column. This is a brave move because, of course, it’s 2020, and truly, the only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know a thing for sure.

When this column goes to print, the election will be a few days off. And then there will be the day after the election. I think that this is a fairly safe bet. We might not know who won the day after the election, but I do think it’s a safe bet there will be a day after.

Previous elections tell me that I will want to focus on the anchors of daily, ordinary life, to zero in on what is most local of all: home and parish. As we plan the day after, let’s begin with daily Mass. Go to morning Mass with members of your household. Don’t listen to the radio on the way; pray the rosary instead. Trust the Blessed Mother to be absolutely perfect in her maternal care — of everything. Be fully present to Our Lord when you get there — as much as is humanly possible. Still yourself, and know that he is God of the universe, and it is his power that truly fuels your world. Surrender to him in so many words. After Communion, close your eyes and keep them closed. Focus intently on what God can show you of your soul. Resolve to maintain peace there, come what may.

On the way home from Mass, stop for coffee. Try to stop at a local cafe. Try to buy an autumn specialty. Acknowledge that the precision that went into crafting your drink probably could not be replicated at home. Take a moment to truly appreciate your barista and her dedication to art and method. Be sure to smile above your mask. Be sure it is obvious to the strangers around you that you have just been filled with Christ himself and nothing can rob you of your joy. Whoever your companion from home is, offer time and attention. Even if your cafe is still closed to tabletop customers, sit and sip in the car and focus entirely on one another. No phones. No distractions. Just connection. Let your companion know that no matter what rocks the world “out there,” his or her heart is safe with you. Enjoy the quiet companionship that comes with well-tended relationships that are intended for a lifetime. Rest in the security of knowing that family endures, come what may.

As the morning breaks open into the work of the day, pay special attention to your own art and method. Before you begin each task, each assignment, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can bring his peace to that particular corner of the world. If you are brokering a deal, pray for insight into the challenges of each party and the wisdom to negotiate with both skill and tenderness, careful to remember the humanity of everyone you encounter. If you are folding laundry, pray for each body entrusted to your care, each person who will be warm and dry as they go out into the world, clothed by the work of your hands. Fold the linens with precision and take a moment to make them tidy in the closet. You cannot order the world out there; you cannot bring calm out of chaos in the square. But you can bring peace and repose to the home entrusted to you. Clear the clutter, turn on lights, sweep the floor. Make dinner. Or don’t — thoughtfully order something in. But set the table, and make a plan.

Gather together around a meal. If you live alone, invite someone in. If you live with a big family, also invite someone in. Say grace, break bread, enter into meaningful community. Understand that here, in homes, is where the world is really changed. Here, around the table, is where the art of listening is cultivated. Here, at dinner, is where the habits of feeding the hungry and comforting the sorrowful (and so many more) begin. Here is where our Christian mission to live out all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy finds both roots and sustenance.

The day after the election, set about your daily round with the intention of changing the world, focused intently on your own closest sphere of influence. Let it be the beginning of a new era, the beginning of something beautiful in your life and the lives of people you encounter. When you go to bed Nov. 4, ask God to show you how you brought his vision of this good world to life that day. And ask him to show you how you can do it even more perfectly, even more like he would, the following day. The sun will rise again. Men and women will come to power, and they will topple from great human heights. Illness will sweep the earth. People will die, and people will be born. God is still in his heaven. Ask him how to be the eyes that see with compassion, the hands and feet that do his work, the prayers that bring his grace to his kingdom here on this good earth.

 Foss, whose website is takeupandread.org, writes from Connecticut.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020

@elizabethfoss