There are so, so many things that can be said for, as the millennials call it, #corona.
A time to weep:
For those who are ill. For families far away, isolated. For those whose depression creeps up the too-close walls or when anxiety rubs too raw.
A time to mourn:
For those who didn’t make it. For broken hopes, broken businesses, broken dreams. For lost jobs and lost certainty.
There are discussions to be had of the value of storytelling during this time; of not making it a “pain Olympics,” as one friend mentioned, but just holding space for each other and noting that each individual faces unique, yet no less valid, struggles. Of reaching out with tales of our own vulnerability, our own failings, and recognizing the common threads of our beautiful, patchwork humanity.
There is noting the tarnished, but still very silver, lining of the gift of time: when we are forced to go home, when our distractions disappear; when Americans are forced to stop working/binding themselves with “busy,” and suddenly we find ourselves facing the home lives we’ve run so very far, so very fast to avoid. How is our sister, our daughter, our mother really doing? Why does your spouse always make that face, that one comment? Who even are our neighbors?
Even beyond actually questioning our everyday, “normal” reactions: there is the gift of finding how people react under duress. How do we respond? How would we like to respond? Is there anything we can learn about ourselves in that gap? Speaking of learning:
Crises allow us to reevaluate our priorities.
Though the notion of material wealth’s fleeting nature might previously have hovered somewhere near the back of our conscious, it now presents itself at the fore. So what do we do with that? Is this the end? Or maybe, just maybe—might there be something more?
And what about grace? Can we find that?
The grace to forgive ourselves when we don’t respond in the ideal manner, or the grace to validate our family’s fears, even when we don’t share them. Can we see grace in kindness undeserved, when we receive help? Is there grace enough to welcome the tears, welcome the mourning; is there grace to stretch for more?
These are all valid questions that deserve due consideration.
I’m fortunate in that, after 4.5 years overseas, isolated away from my family in the most stressful of circumstances, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder them.
So instead of jumping into a whack-a-mole, etch-a-sketch discourse, today I’ll ask just one question.
Where is God in #corona?
I’ve quoted from Cheryl Strayed’s column, “Dear Sugar,” years before, but, for reasons mysterious and beautiful and unknown, this season brought her back to my reading list.
Cheryl doesn’t believe in the Christian God. Vehemently disagree, concur, or no, she offers us a unique perspective on facing hard times:
“To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion. It implies a pious quid pro quo that defies history, ethics, and reason. It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising—the very half that makes rising necessary—is having first been nailed to the cross.
That’s where we are. Pinned in place by suffering. So I got up and wrote… a paltry little email probably not too different from zillions of other paltry little emails, but I know without knowing that those emails from people who had nothing to give but their kind words, along with all the prayers people were praying, together formed a tiny raft that could just barely hold our weight as we floated through the hours.”
If I believed in God, I’d see evidence of his existence in that, in our darkest hour, we were held afloat by the human love given when we most needed it.~Cheryl Strayed
#corona is a unique, sometimes horrifying situation. Fear has invaded every home, in every country. As the bills pour in and the death rates climb, it can be easy to feel abandoned. Separated from our communities, overwhelm and feelings of uselessness sneak in.
But what if, together, we all write a paltry little email—pray a little prayer? What if we each tell a small story, light a small candle. What if we hold each other a little tighter?
Can you see God in the collective of the broken, imperfect heart?
After working overseas in Bahrain and Japan, Brett now hides out in the clouds of Portland, Oregon. When not pondering esoteric questions, swimming, or calculating cookie-to-workout ratios, she can be found teleworking or brewing coffee. One of the two.