It was the best of times; it was the worst of times
Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities.
That is what I am feeling: so many opposites. Light and darkness, prosperity and despair, suffering and joy, It is difficult to live with peace in the midst of this time of opposites. Singing from balconies, and choirs which can’t meet for the fear of droplets of corona virus spreading more than 6 feet. Being an essential worker, in the midst of so many who are jobless, and those who have to work each day and put themselves in harm’s way. Having the gift of time with our children alone, to hear their stories and listen to their school work, and yet angst over no break, no separation to remind us how much we do miss them and love them, no place to go to remember where they end and we begin.
And then there is the numbers games, the numbers of those dying from this virus, yet the increasing numbers of those leaving the hospital and surviving, and the numbers of people who have not gotten the virus or who have suffered very little. And the good news that for the most part the children for once are being spared, but the aging are dying, the prisoners close to their parole are being set free early, but now face a world with no resources and homelessness a given. We are missing even the people we don’t know but who we see in supermarkets, the bank, drug stores, walking down the street. Not being able to acknowledge one another shows all of us that we need each other for this journey of life, and maybe we aren’t as independent as we imagined.
Over these 2+ months, there have been many “worst of times” to bring our mental health and outlook to a place of brokenness and distress. I believe we cannot see the best of times in this pandemic if we don’t acknowledge the worst of times for all of us is also real. As in all of life, the truth always sets us free to new hope. Even amid crisis, we are blessed with bests. All the times we have prayed and lifted up “The world as one” in our words, we have seen how inter-related and dependent on each other we truly are. We are often fed a secular narrative of “them” and “us” but as one “us” we have contracted this virus and together as one “us” we will find a cure. We look to other countries and places on the globe where numbers are going down and we study them and try to learn from what they have done.
I recently read this bit of encouragement, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, think of being in a tent with one mosquito.” Last week one member of our congregation brightened the day of several members living alone, by dropping off a loaf of homemade bread. Some of our young people have been writing with sidewalk chalk in places where other isolated neighbors have been walking. Have you received an unexpected call or note during these weeks from a friend just checking in? Just look how far colorful paper hearts can go and add hope. In WestChester, businesses, buildings, and private homes have taken up hearts for the world. One mosquito, one person, one act of kindness. Another best has been the number of folks attending our virtual worship, checking in from afar, some never having worshipped with us, but reaching out to be connected. For one hour we know faith is alive, God is with us, and we can share compassionate love where it is needed. What is written in history books for future generations about the 2020 pandemic & the Covid-19 virus, which we are living now, will depend on how we see the whole picture, both the worst and best of this time, and how we remember and learn from these months of quarantine what it means to be one, as God has always called us: One in Spirit, One in Body, One in God’s loving embrace and compassionate justice!
On the journey with you,
~ Pastor Angelee