As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the news, upend our lives and distract us with daily updates on numbers of cases and deaths, the consequences of re-opening perhaps too soon or too quickly, and on and on ... it’s easy to lose track of the lives we lived a few months ago.
Media has kept us informed of the various ways that people have coped with this new normal. We see footage from hospitals and from the places where bodies are cold-stored. From empty schools turned into shelters for the homeless. From government buildings where frustrated citizens are claiming their constitutional rights to free assembly, regardless of the danger to others. Only now, numbed and discouraged, are we reading the names of the dead (N.Y. Times), in full realization that people have lost loved ones without being able to say goodbye. Fellow humans deal with shock and grief with limited physical support from family and friends. Families have been left broken, impoverished. Women and children are quarantined with volatile partners or fathers.
The question some are forced to ask is, where is God in all this?
One answer came by way of an email, which quoted thus: God, ever the gentleman, upon noting that his presence was not acknowledged, asked for or required, made a quiet, polite exit, leaving us to fend for ourselves. How does that resonate for you?
I find quite the opposite to be true. Daily I read or hear at least one story that lifts my heart. Impromptu balcony concerts, volunteers delivering meals, even flowers. Every evening at 7 p.m. my five-year-old grandson gathers his family on the front deck to bang pots and pans with neighbors who are doing the same, maybe honking car horns, saying “thank you” to frontline workers. Drive-by birthday parties, Churches zooming their worship, choirs performing digitally. And loveliest of all, I have watched videos of young First Nations children, in full regalia, dancing their precious little prayers for the world. The divine lives and breathes in each of these. And I have seen proof of mother Earth breathing deeply of fresh air, her children coming out of hiding to revel in a world free of human activity.
God has been present throughout this experience, in joy and sorrow, in grief and relief. And when this is all over, God will still be there, still waiting for us to reach out for wisdom, comfort and guidance, perhaps with ears a bit more tuned in, hands a bit more reaching out, hearts a bit more open and minds a bit more humbled and receptive to the possibility that the divine is ever present, ever vigilant, ever caring, ever waiting. And perhaps wanting to wonder with you if your life will change as a result of this experience. Will “back to normal” ever be the same? Will you seek to create a “new normal?” As we move toward a post-pandemic, we will be adjusting to new realities. We may long for a return to “normal” but “normal” may need to be re-defined. Whatever the future holds we can know this to be true:
And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.