“Psalms 16:8 and 9:
8 I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”
The first few days of the pandemic, when we were in “lockdown” and had a steady dose of news about the virus, deaths, and contagion, I found myself envisioning all the negative occurrences that could happen in our lives as a result of the virus. Now THAT was scary! None of my envisionings were really irrational. They were and are distinct possibilities; still, most of those dreads have not occurred, and time spent worrying about their potential for happening, fearing, adding on anxiety to the mix, will only result in physical tension, tight muscles, shortness of breath, overly quick heartbeats, and lack of peace. My flesh would certainly not “rest in hope” as described by the psalmist.
So…I stopped feeding my brain the scarey thoughts of events I could not predict or control. Yes, I took some time to mourn what had been “lost”. In truth I still feel my heart engaged and sensitive to sad news, that brings me to tears. Some tears though make sense and are cleansing. I do not dwell in thoughts of negativity. Limiting the volume of intake of deaths we take from the news each day can be helpful. I remember one of the TV channels advertising we could download the app for the channel and get the very latest statistics on the coronavirus. Whooppee, moment by moment availability of death statistics; I don’t think so. Instead let’s remind ourselves of what we still have; cherish it; hug it; and be grateful. As one of the memes someone sent me says: Getting outdoors – not cancelled; Music – not cancelled; Family – not cancelled; reading – not cancelled; singing – not cancelled; laughing – not cancelled; HOPE – not cancelled; let’s embrace what we HAVE. And look at all the KINDNESSES around us! Wow!
Humility may be a virtue, but it is rarely a virtue we chase after to attain. We are all now faced though with developing humility in the face of this virus. Whether our country wins the arms race, whether we growl at the virus or point the boney finger at it, or whether we pretend the virus is not there, it IS there and is more powerful than we. The only way we can negotiate with it is to wash our hands often, wait at a distance, and wear our masks as we shelter in place, praying and perhaps adding “pretty please.” Many of us have realized we probably needed this pause, hard as that may be to accept. We open to alternative possibilities.
As the master chorale song Merrilee forwarded to the choir recently says:
“When times are hard, may hardness never turn your heart to stone.
May you always remember when the shadows fall, you do not walk alone.”
We truly do not walk alone. We tentatively gather on Zoom Sunday mornings to celebrate that reality of togetherness as in one big shared Zoom mute, we sing the hymns and rejoice together…in spite of all. We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. People who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full may be missing the point. The glass may be refillable. Is your glass refillable?
Carol Ripley-Moffitt shared this poem about the thread with some of us prior to her leaving, to support our coping with the coronavirus.
“The Way It Is”
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it, you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.”
–William Stafford, from The Way It Is, 1998
Is connection to God, to Spirit, our thread? May we never let go of the thread…
Martha Andrus Lamb, May 22, 2020