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The social-distancing of an extrovert

The first couple of days of social-distancing found me walking aimlessly around the house trying to organize my thoughts about this new way of life. Normally, I leave the house every day to get groceries, go to the gym, attend a meeting, help with the grandchildren or have coffee with a friend. There’s no end to the many good reasons an extrovert will find, when left to her own devices, to be out among people!

Blog post author and Providence Associate candidate Mary Heins

So, when the state issued its social distancing directives, I realized I had to change my ways. Instead of complaining, though, I decided to pick up the challenge to change my lifestyle, at least for the time being. If a child like Anne Frank could adjust her life and live for 2 years in a 450 square foot room, certainly I could make a few changes for a short time. Then a friend emailed me and asked, “What is nourishing your soul these days?” I suddenly realized that the changes I’d been forced to make were actually becoming pleasures for me and nourishing my soul.

Slowing down

I’ve slowed down (now that I don’t go away so much) and been forced to tend to things at home. I’ve found great pleasure in completing the refinishing of our bathroom vanity (and saving about $500!) Today I cleaned up some old flower planters and am experimenting with starting flower seeds indoors. We have the perfect south window — lots of sun!

Blog post author and Providence Associate candidate Mary Heins speaks with another attendee a during a retreat at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods prior to the days of social distancing

Slowing down is also allowing me to be more present in the moment and to listen better, especially to my husband. So, we plan a walk in the park each day if it’s not raining. Macrina Wiederkehr says “Being present with quality is a decision we are invited to make every day. It’s another way to become like God.”

I don’t know if my husband feels I’m more God-like, but I feel a new sense of peace. It’s something different from what I’ve felt before, just because I’ve listened more closely. This is a new peace and awareness and I do not take it lightly – I recall it often. And inwardly bow my head in thanks to loving Creator God. It is a taste of God’s “peace which surpasses all understanding.”

God all around us

When we’re really present, Wiederkehr reminds her readers, there are “burning bushes all around” us, theophanies, visible manifestations of God. But we have to slow down if we want to see them. Our lives are so full of activities, of noise, of clutter, of work and obligations that it’s hard to take time, to slow down and “smell the roses,” as we used to say. Modern life rarely gives us the leisure to be quiet for a while. No wonder we don’t experience God’s presence more often!

So, I hope that in this forced slowdown we will discover some hidden treasures lying right on our own doorstep, pearls in our everyday lives that are there for the discovery. And we will be refreshed by a theophany.

“Thank you, Creator God, for slowing me down that I might experience your presence, your peace, your joy again in my life.”

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Mary Heins

Mary Heins is a Providence Associate candidate with the Sisters of Providence. She has lived in Indianapolis with her husband George for 35 years. They have one daughter and three grandchildren. Always active in the Catholic Church, since 2002 Mary has worked with Voice of the Faithful, National Survivors Advocates Coalition, and Roman Catholic Women Priests, all for transparency and equality in our Church.

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2 Comments

  1. Paula Modaff, SP on April 7, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Mary, thanks for reminding me to slow down, to listen more carefully, and to be more deeply aware of the presence of the Holy every where. Because I am an introvert, I can get so lost in my own thoughts that I miss good opportunities to share love and gratitude with those around me.

  2. Susan Paweski, SP on April 8, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Hard as this time is, it is a blessing to have the opportunity to re-order our lives. Organizing photos have allowed me to “visit” family and friends as I remember where and when the photos were taken. Mary, thank you for sharing the blessings of slowing down and naming our time as a treasure trove of quiet discovery.

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