A year in the boat

North Texas Catholic
(Mar 23, 2021) Faith-Inspiration


As the one-year mark comes and goes from dealing with the pandemic, it has caused me to reflect on the past 12 months.

The week before the lockdowns started, I was on a pilgrimage with students from UTA. We were visiting churches and holy sites in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. Looking back, it was a great last hurrah, even if we did not know it would be months before the next hurrah.

My dad asked me recently, “When problems come, do you enjoy solving them or would you rather run away from them?”

I tend to turn and face the problems that come my way, and this attitude helped me have a pretty good 2020. Some unexpected good things really helped me deal with the challenges presented to all of us. Most came to me by force or by accident.

First, we were forced into lockdown. I rather enjoyed it. Granted it is just me and my wife living in our house, and we still like each other a lot even after 26 years. It was by far the most time we had spent uninterrupted in each other’s presence, ever! There were a few moments I am not proud of, but by and large we enjoyed being together. We liked the slower schedule, embraced the quiet, and dove into the simpler time.

Jeff Hedglen is the campus minister at the University Catholic Community at the University of Texas-Arlington.

We were both blessed to be able to work from home and I, for my part, liked the days full of Zoom calls with students. I felt it was a good time to connect and grow in faith in one-on-one settings, and praying the Rosary in Brady-Bunch-styled squares was not as arduous as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, college campus ministry without big events, retreats, and meals has been a challenge, but God continues to bless our efforts!

With all the extra time, I took the long-desired opportunity to dive into an 1,800-page book called Shogun by James Clavell. I had an unexpected spiritual challenge arise when reading about Japan in the year 1600. They spoke about the need to give in to what they call karma, defined basically as whatever will happen, will happen, and we can do nothing about it. While reflecting on this idea, I asked myself if I surrender to God’s will with the same abandon as these people gave in to karma. The answer was a resounding NO! Well, I am aiming to change that. A new mantra I have when things are not going the way I plan is “Thy will be done!”

Lastly is the blessing that came my way completely by accident. I started reading the daily Mass readings and one day a verse jumped out to me and I decided to post it, with a small reflection on the UTA Campus Ministry Instagram page. When I posted it, I titled it “Daily reflection from the Campus Minister.” After I posted it, I thought, “What have I done? I said…. daily… that means I have to keep doing this… daily.”

Well, I have continued to do this and it has been the biggest blessing of all in the last year. I have always wanted to be consistent in reading the daily readings, but I am by nature kind of lazy. I guess God knows this and sneakily got me to put “daily” in that first post.

I don’t want to make light of the terrible year this has been. I lost an uncle to COVID-19 and have had many friends become sick. I know many health care workers who are being pushed beyond the breaking point. But this year has taught me a valuable lesson: God is in the boat with us calming the chaos; we just have to focus on Him and not the storm.


Jeff Hedglen, columns, vocations, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, trending-english