Lessons from the Pandemic
(Posted March 18, 2021)
So here we are. It’s been a full year since any of us had any doubts that we would have a job or money in the bank in the months that lay ahead. All of us watched as the daily activities that made the texture and enjoyment of living were snuffed out like a candle, and we were plunged into dark months of anxious uncertainty.
And many of the very things we took for granted then feel so important today. A hug. A feel. The ability to hold our elders during the final years of their lives. The presence of people with whom we previously used to laugh and eat and giggle with – all gone in the space of time it takes for a hospital heart monitor to slow and go to a flat line.
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If we were lucky enough not to lose a loved one, then we knew the internal pain of watching brave people in scrubs committed to save the un-save-able, their faces scarred by the laceration of their masks, crying at the bedside as they held a hand fading away so that they would not be alone. As the year unfolded, people began to express their gratitude in our cities by banging on pans, singing arias from fire escapes, and sharing with people they had never met in their lives.
Lessons from the Pandemic
So what did we learn in this first year of the pandemic? What was it, again, that seemed so important in 2019 that was swept away in 2020? I can barely remember. Instead, I feel the profound need to repeat in my soul what we HAVE learned from this year of dislocation and isolation.
For all the examples of how we had lost our way, it feels as if God is giving us a reset – the beginning, yet again, of a different covenant with God. In this Sunday’s Hebrew Bible reading, God pledges this to us: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The law that God writes within us is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
What does “love your neighbors” really mean? It means showing them mercy. If you re-read my account above of this last year, mercy is the shared experience of those whose hearts have been transformed by confronting an invisible, mindless planetary purge.
So what lessons have we learned? Can we now see more clearly what is precious in life, and what is merely the background noise of our own pride and ambition? This Sunday I will share with all of us the new stories of transformative mercy, of the ability to see what is worth far more than gold – our own priceless blessings for the path that lies ahead. Join us!