The Shock of a Layoff

layoff notice

On the day of my distress I seek the Lord
By night my hands are raised unceasingly,
I refuse to be consoled.
When I think of God, I groan;
As I ponder, my spirit grows faint.
My eyes cannot close in sleep;
I am troubled and cannot speak.
I consider the days of old;
The years long past, I remember.
In the night I meditate in my heart;
I ponder and my spirit broods.
(Psalm 77: 3-6)

On the afternoon of January 7, 2015, I was led into a small conference room, outside of my work floor, and was told that I was being laid off. My boss and our company Human Resource person were there, and neither was happy about the situation. I was not too thrilled either, and it took me some time to get my composure back. The HR person went over the details of my severance package; and how to file for unemployment benefits. I shook hands with the boss, and said “It has been a pleasure (and meant it)!” I was given my coat, and my carry bag; and shown to the elevator. Nineteen years with the company ended in under an hour.

Fortunately, my former place of business was near St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, and I was able to talk with my spiritual director for a bit. It helped me for a while, but I am still facing an uncertain future. I am over sixty, and was pulling in two figure annual salary, which does not make a prime candidate for a position in many companies. There are days (and nights) I can relate to the person who composed Psalm 77. When life throws you a curve, it can take a while to recover. It is one thing to say I trust in God, it is another thing to actually do it.

What helps is to maintain one’s rhythm of prayer, even when you do not feel like it. I strive to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day, to open my heart to God’s Presence; through the psalms, the readings, and the moments of meditative silence. As a Deacon, I have assisted at several weekend Masses, immersing myself in the beauty and power of the Eucharistic Liturgy. I open myself to the Presence of my Savior, in Word and Sacrament, rejoicing in the experience of my Lord Jesus Christ.

I still do not know what the future will hold, but like the prophet Habakkuk, I will “exult in my saving God.”

“For though the fig tree blossom, nor fruit be on the vines. Though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment. Though the flocks disappear from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls. Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, and exult in my saving God. God, my Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights.” (Habakkuk 3: 17-19)

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