THE GREAT SADNESS
I’m feeling reflective and vulnerable this morning, as the snow slowly sifts down and two doves softly coo outside my window. I’m ending my posts for the week with some thoughts on the emotional and spiritual toll of this pandemic. As we go into the weekend, we take a collective deep breath because we know, when we turn on the news on Monday, the reports will be even more grim.
All of you who know me well, understand I’m not afraid to show emotion, and even at the slightest provocation, I have leaky eyes. And believe me, I’ve seen my share of suffering first-hand, the poor around the world who go without medical care, mudslides in Honduras, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, and the earthquake in Haiti, but these last couple weeks, I admit, I’ve wept.
I have wept: Over the elderly who have been married for decades, saying their goodbyes through phone calls. Over the medical community that is stretched to the limit of physical and emotional endurance and bravely risking their own lives. Over the police, firefighters and EMTs who are dying because they did their jobs. Over weddings and other happy occasions being reduced to Zoom conferences. Over the men who are barred from watching their own child’s birth. Over families split up and separated, and only connecting through a window or computer screen. AND the thousands and thousands who have died and will continue to perish.
And now we enter into THE GREAT SADNESS—a period of immense suffering and human toll. We see it in New York and watch the gigantic wave of disease and sadness coming.
I am a man of hope, it’s what I base all my books on, but please make no mistake about it, we ARE entering a time that most of us have never experienced. Only those very few who are still alive from the great epidemic of 1918 and World War I understand. We can only catch a glimpse as we look at the old black-and-white photos from that era to see the men in nice suits and downcast eyes, standing in the soup kitchen lines. Perhaps those who have suffered truly understand the afflicted.
But, however tragic these next weeks or months turn out to be, there is hope. We see hope sprouting. Heroes running toward danger. Neighbors reaching out to neighbors. Kindness spreading faster than the disease. Artists donating their talents to ease people’s anxiety. Those with resources giving to those without. Newscasters bringing us into their own homes, because they care enough about us to continue working. And even the simplest of acts: Young children sketching chalk hearts up and down their streets, the doctors dancing in their PPEs, and the silly Tic-Tok videos of a friend and her daughters over social media.
Winter into spring, spring into summer; death unto life, suffering into hope. It’s the ultimate metaphor of life. Most great spiritual awakenings have come out of pain and suffering. There WILL be a time that this is all behind us. We will find endurance and resilience. We will thrive once again. This is a period of great suffering, AND we can learn love in the midst of our pain. Don’t let a moment pass or a lesson learned escape us in this next season.
This pandemic is indeed the great equalizer and possibly more critical, an unfortunate messenger. It is my belief that our world’s immune system was already weakened with an epidemic—an epidemic before the pandemic. The virus and disease of hate had infected us all. No matter what socio-economic class, race, religion, or political belief, we have all been infected and affected.
But there is HOPE.
Christians are now in the season of Lent. A time of reflection, repentance, and self-denial. Often, we simplify this season to give up something we enjoy. May I humbly suggest, this year, instead of denying ourselves of something, we offer a gift to others…LOVE. Put off (push away) fear, worry, and hate and put on love.
Entering this time of Easter and Passover, let us remember the greatest commandments of God—they have never been more understandable and essential. LOVE your God and LOVE your neighbor. THIS is where we find our strength.
As we look for our coming hope, I pray safety, health, and love over you all…Timothy