This morning I came across a clipping and a quote that struck me as so true: “Keep quiet, pray, and wait for God to work.” (Rose McCormick Brandon) Yesterday, someone told me to read Psalm 91, especially vs. 7, which says, “You will not be harmed, though thousands fall all around you” (CEV). It is comforting to think that somehow God will keep me safe and sound while thousands of people die. Seriously? Not! Certainly not comforting for those thousands! Better to just keep quiet, pray and wait. And yet, here I am, writing.
I’m writing because sometimes the medicine we need does not taste very good. Chemo almost kills before it cures. We submit to medical traumas for the long term good of our health. Over the years I have counselled many who were burnt out, on stress leave, at their wit’s end. They didn’t think they could stop and rest. They thought they had to keep going, no matter what. Parents do it all the time – work all day, then spend the evening driving children to events and activities on the other side of town, sometimes several trips in different directions in one night. If they are lucky, they have time on Sunday to do a load of wash or get the groceries.
I often have reminded people that when they don’t take a break, eventually the body just stops, gets sick, plays out, forcing us to rest. We have to make up the rest that we never took. Some never make it back to where they were before, having worn themselves out too far, pushed themselves too much. Maybe that’s what is happening to our species right now. Maybe we are being forced into a reset. You probably have seen a meme passed along on Facebook, more than once, about Sabbath. A day of rest. We haven’t taken our day of rest for so long; we have lots of catching up to do.
My province, New Brunswick, yesterday joined the ranks of many others around the world, declaring a state of emergency, closing all non-essential business, and severely restricting the places we are allowed to go. We are so used to going to the pool, the spa, the gym. We spend hours in hockey rinks, pool halls and theatres. Not now. Not for a while to come. Not for quite a few daily Sabbaths.
Now we stay at home, read books, play games, talk to our friends and family on the phone. We are having meals at our kitchen tables, getting to know our family in close quarters instead of escaping for a cup of coffee elsewhere. All the things that keep us so busy, we are told, are not important after all. We are being given a simpler life, at least for a while. We rediscover what used to be the norm.
When my son was ten, he said, “Mom! You have to read this book!” He passed me a copy of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. (You may have seen the movie.) My son, even at ten, could choose good books, and I have since read the sequels as well. The Earth of these books was much like ours, full of war between races and countries, until…. until an alien species comes from space, and suddenly everyone is on the same side, fighting the “buggers”. I’ve often thought, yes, we need an alien invasion to help us see that we are all one. That alien has arrived, in the form of a virus, not from outer space. Suddenly, the other side of the world is our next door neighbour. Suddenly everyone is aware of the plight of everyone else. We are all in the same boat.
We want this to be a very short boat ride. We want to get back to normal. But many say this is not going to be short. This Sabbath rest will be a long one. The world may not be the same when we come out the other side. In fact, I hope it is quite different. Can we learn that we don’t need to be jetting around the planet as easily as taking a trip to the grocery store? Can we be content to enjoy where we are instead of hopping on a cruise ship to see the world? Now, believe me, I love to cruise, but I also cringe knowing what it does to our oceans. Can we learn that what really matters is the people we love? That, and health? Can we come to appreciate a simpler way? Can we take time to fly a kite for a change? Can we reset?
Back to Psalm 91:7 and Rose McCormick Brandon’s quote…. In some ways, we are all being harmed by this virus, whether we get sick or not. We have a new understanding of the perils of pandemics. We face having loved ones die in hospitals when we are not allowed to be there. We fear not having enough hospital beds at all. We may be angry at the idea of God, especially one that saves a few and lets others fall. Whether you think of this as something from God, the Universe, Life, or Chance, if we can be quiet and wait, when this reset is complete, I pray we will find much to be grateful for. Already the air and water are healing. Already we are learning to be kind again. Be quiet and wait for this Virus to work in our lives. Find love. Find things to be grateful for, and expect healing for our souls through this bad tasting medicine.