14 Jun Good out of Bad?
This moment is unlike anything that most of us have ever experienced. We turn on the news or look out of windows to see empty streets and darkened buildings. We see no familiar walking around the block, no kids on bicycle riding nowhere in particular or parents bringing their children to the park. The crowds that normally surrounded us in the office /college, on the train and in coffee shops have now dispersed. Visits with our friends and family have lessened.
Because of covid-19, a mere virus, many of us are seeing communities act like they existed generations ago. We are cut off from one another, passing our days in varying degrees of isolation. Worries about our health, finance and the future we had planned, dominate our thoughts. The world has changed and nothing seems to be quite normal.
We have fixed our mind and heart on what we have lost – our routines, our plans, freedom of movement, maybe even our jobs… Imagining the good that might come out of our current situation comes less easily to us. Yet when we look back through the history of God dealing with humanity, we see that God has brought forth good from evil time and again.
Blaise Pascal once said “All of humanity’s problem stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”. We focus our attention “out there” because we are afraid of confronting what is “in here” No doubt the pandemic has brought additional stress and work hours upon many medical professionals and workers in essential industries, for many others much of life’s daily activity – commuting to work, attending meetings, running errands – has abruptly reduced. Again, this may be a gift that we never would have given ourselves. Many of us have been living like Jesus’ friend Martha, who was overwhelmed by all the work to be done. We have been so beholden to our to-do lists that we have lost sight of what is most important. Now, however, in the midst of a global slowdown, we may finally be able to hear Jesus words to Martha as something intended for us: “you are worried and distracted by many things. There is need of only one thing” (Lk 10:41). Jesus makes clear what is that “one necessary thing” earlier in the chapter (Lk 10:27): ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind’; but it is worth mulling over for ourselves what is most important to us, and whether our daily living actually reflects it. Now, we have no choice but to let go of the old normal. We occupy space on both sides of a threshold. One foot is rooted in something trying to end, another is planted in a thing not yet defined, something waiting to begin.
COVID-19 is causing many serious and unfortunate effects on our society. But shattering our illusion that “busy” and “big” are the same as “fruitful” and “effective” certainly isn’t one of them.
Maybe with less to do, we’ll learn to get along with less. Maybe Sunday mornings will become more special. Maybe we’ll realize that being an effective Christian requires fewer programs, fewer pre-packaged curricula, or even fewer high-production-value videos.
“Lord, teach us to number our days” is the prayer of the Psalmist Moses (90:12) who in difficult times exhorts the pursuit of wisdom and perspective, which involves honest reflections about life and its harsh circumstances, and also pleads for the Lord his God to rescue him and his people.
Mayuri Nag hails from Bhimtal, UK and doing her Bachelor of Fisheries science from GB, Pantnagar. She is a student representative of Hindi Training Cell (HTC) and also serves as the ICEU secretary