The ancient scriptures warn us that by entertaining strangers we could be hosting angels.
I know it’s a stretch, but we’re all hosting the unwelcome stranger, COVID-19. Angel really means messenger. There’s no doubt we are getting messages of all kinds.
For starters, how about humility? The constant, careful washing of hands reveals to us that we are no different, or better if it comes to that, than our forebears who practiced rituals of sacrifice to ward off evil.
Like you, I’m instantly nostalgic about the not-so-distant past where Amazon trucks roamed the streets like Santa Claus bringing whatever our hearts desired and our bank accounts allowed us to click on. Yes, we had a nagging sense of greedy consumerism. We’d deal with that later. It now seems a ghost of a memory. My daily prayer of thanks over a meal has new significance, since the often cleared out shelves at my grocery store whisper the opposite of the promise of abundant possibility. We unwrap a new roll of toilet paper with the reverence of a Christmas gift.
We live in a cloudy triage between the bludgeoning horror of fatalities, the thin but golden saffron threads of hope for a cure and abatement of the disease, and the daily duty of keeping ourselves and others safe in isolation. Life is now distilled to the essential and we’ve been given a divine gift, the clarity to see it.
Our nerve-jangling messenger speaks volumes to us all. It has heightened my attention to the glaring defects in my character. Like my ‘artistic’ tendency to let my imagination purr like a revved-up engine in the background, creating horrid scenarios out of the ready-made disaster kits served up by the headlines. My unbridled sense of self-preservation and lack of compassion that keeps repeating “at least my family is safe.” Or my glee that scrambling parents have had to see first-hand what homeschooling their kids really entails instead of realizing that they’re having to do it under emergency situations and not by choice.
In my delusions of grandeur as a woman of faith, my imagination runs wild. I see myself captured in an amateur video dying graciously of the disease, a calm witness of the grace of God to the end. Twitter acclaim to follow. And wake from my arrogance with a far more likely scenario following me like a piece of now precious toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my foot. I will be asked to live life in the middle of the new reality separated from friends and family in the uncertainty of a ‘fluid’ situation, not in imminent danger but fighting the fear of it.
It’s all just so much isn’t it? For this I need Someone, Something far greater than myself, far more powerful than the dreaded messenger. Tony Robbins is famous for saying that we should focus on what we want, not on what we fear. What you focus on often turns into reality. I believe this is a paraphrase of Jesus words, “Ask and you shall receive.”
So here is what I want. Of course, I want it to be over, but I also want to learn be less of an anxious drag on the system and more helpful and hopeful. I want the world, my country, my state, my town, my family to emerge from this bad dream stronger, braver and better. The only way, as I see it is to keep our eyes up, away from fear and towards the highest outcome. The highest outcome can only come from the highest Being, and that is God. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord that to trust in man,”Psalm 118:8, so that someday soon we can say, “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes,” Psalm 118:23.
What do you want?