Hello everyone, we made it through another day!
Today I want to share a story from my mom in Connecticut (hi Mom!). She writes:
On Saturday I walked to the bagel store, not to buy anything, just for the exercise and to see if they were staying open. The doors had just closed. I read the sign (“Close at 2:00”) and began to walk away, but was hailed by an employee. He asked if I wanted a shopping bag full of free bagels. Many people had ordered and not picked up.
I said yes, toted them home, and offered some to my neighbor Kathleen. It turned out she was on her way to
the police station with homemade soup for them to distribute to the homeless. I gave her the bagels.
So random generosity made its way through me, then Kathleen, then the police to the homeless.
And I savored every second of human contact.
Note: the above photo is from the actual bagel place that Mom goes to!
It’s easy to think about this crisis as an entirely horrible situation ~ which in its way, it is. An oft-repeated phrase is that the Chinese word for “crisis” is the same as that for “opportunity,” but the truth is more subtle than that;
the word is comprised of two characters, “danger” and “opportunity.”
There is great danger in this crisis, but there is also an opportunity to show what we are made of as human beings and as people of faith. Who are we at our core? Are we people who help; people who hurt; or people who stand idly by? Do we put our faith in action or simply read it and quote it? Sure, there are people out there fighting for toilet paper. But there are also people out there like the bagel store owner, my mom, Kathleen, and the officers of their police department who are out there feeding the homeless. It’s enough to renew one’s faith in humanity.
You know who never lost faith in humanity? Come on, you know this one!
The amazing thing about our Lord is that he saw our best, He saw our worst, and He decided that our best was worth dying for.
The virus spreads by human contact. Yes. But so does the Gospel. And so does kindness. One person at a time, one act at a time, picking up steam, growing exponentially. We’re still searching for a counterbalance to the virus. Maybe kindness is that counterbalance: not a cure, but the beginning of a different sort of wave that can help us to believe in each other once again. Before all this happened, we were having a hard time doing so. But in the last two weeks, I estimate that we’ve heard more stories of kindness, of community, of chipping in than we’ve heard
in the last twelve months ~ and this is while we’re all staying six feet apart from each other!
I’ve always rejected the theology that “bad things are good because they are part of God’s plan.” This has never made any sense to me. But I believe that good things can emerge from the bad, that God can be seen in the response, and that later we may look back and realize that God was with us all along. If this crisis helps us to be a little more tender with each other, a little more kind, a little more grace-filled; if it prompts us to revive our better instincts; if it opens our eyes to the ways in which we affect each other, good or bad; if it draws us closer to one another because we miss so much being apart, then one day we may look back on this period as one of reflection, recalibration and renewal; and isn’t that what Lent is all about?