2020 Vision | Persons, Places and Things


By Barb Arland-Fye

A pair of “2020” lens-less eyeglasses studded with sequins rests on the top shelf of the bookcase in my home office, as a reminder to expect the unexpected this year.


Who knew when my staff and I donned those silly eyeglasses to promote the New Year that 2020 would open the world’s eyes to so many things right and wrong with this present age?

The COVID-19 pandemic behaves like a stealth plane cherry-picking victims along the way. The victims are family members, relatives, friends, colleagues and strangers. We cannot take time to process our grief because the X-factor changes constantly.


Those early months passed like a whirlwind of indistinct days. Sunday seemed like any other day of the week. Our virtual world expanded immensely but our world in reality shrank to the size of my house and neighborhood.

When the uncertainty weighed me down, I went for a walk along the river and felt God’s presence in the fog of an early spring evening. God’s presence lifted me up, and continues to lift me up especially in the most frustrating moments.

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands. Day unto day takes up the story and night unto night makes known the message.”

“No speech, no word, no voice is heard yet their span extends through all the earth, their words to the utmost bounds of the world ….” (Psalm 19A, Monday Morning Prayer, Week II).

Reading that psalm causes my heart to soar to the heavens. Prayer provides so much sustenance. So, too, the Mass. When we returned in late June, the celebration of the Mass seemed so sterile. No music, no singing. Pews marked off. Hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes became part of the new routine.

Receiving the Eucharist made the difference. Traditions and rituals had to change, at least temporarily because of the coronavirus, but I could receive the body of Christ — the physical, spiritual, concrete evidence of Christ’s presence within me.

A few weekends ago, I forgot to follow the arrows that led from our “new entrance” into the church and retraced my steps. It felt like a game I played as a child, but I appreciate that the church doors remain open for the celebration of Mass. Putting on a face mask before I enter the church, squirting my hands with sanitizer, sitting in a different pew to observe physical distancing — all of these rituals have become part of the new normal. These rituals also heighten my anticipation for the time when we no longer need them.

Early on in the pandemic, I tired of working from my home office and longed for the routine of getting up to exercise, heading to the office and collaborating with staff. Now we collaborate via Zoom meeting. We take pride in our ability to produce a weekly newspaper remotely. I know I will appreciate that fact even more when road conditions make travel hazardous. I look up from my computer in the home office and see a charcoal gray squirrel scurry up the tree or the neighbor’s cute little dog “Angus” bark at the squirrel and race through the yard. Angus thinks he is a guard dog.

With infrequent commutes, I found more time to ride my bicycle, which truly gives me a sense of living heaven on earth! As cold weather sets in, I’ll need to adjust my routines but the pandemic has taught me to accept what I cannot change and to appreciate the many blessings in my life. That’s the way I see things in 2020.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at arland-fye@davenportdiocese.org)

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