We need a lot of things right now. We need a vaccine. We need ventilators. We need protective gear for our doctors and nurses. We need rent. We need economic help. We need science. We need medical judgment and wisdom. We need political leadership. We pray God speed for all these.
We also need prayer and spiritual wisdom. We need to fast and pray. We need to repent. Some of these we have needed all along. I wonder if we should live, in a sense, as if this virus never goes away. We certainly pray for its eradication and a vaccine, but I wonder if we should let it perhaps haunt our lives and minds for a while. Of course, it will, regardless. All the death and destruction will see to that. But before we rejoice when the new “normal” returns, maybe we should let the memory hang, like a ghost, so that we are reminded to repent, fast, and pray. And to also remember our neighbor more and think about our connections to everyone and everything.
What is happening right now isn’t because we haven’t been doing those things. That’s not the point. The point is that our current moment can be redemptive if we will allow it.
Yes, we need a lot of things right now. We wonder about the next trip to the grocery store or Costco. What do we get and what should we stock up on? Will we have the money needed? We wonder about our families, friends, and social circles. We talk, we can see each other on screens, but we miss being physically present. We miss body language, eye contact, and all the subtle things only noticed when actually, physically, present with others.
What I’m trying to remember right now is that what we really need is love. The only way we come through this, better people (relative term, I know) and Christians than when we began, is if we have learned to love more. If that doesn’t happen, then even after this virus is vanquished, and even after we return to “normal,” we will have lost a great opportunity for redemption, for God’s grace to work in our lives. This virus can kill. It can also be part of our salvation. In other words, life.We need a lot of things right now. Most of all, we need love. Yes, it’s a song, but it’s much, much more. In this, our “mutilated world,” we need that, “…gentle light that strays and vanishes and returns.”
Try to Praise the Mutilated World
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
Translated by Clare Cavanagh
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