For years, the same thing has happened to me over and over. I push myself to the limit and then I get sick. Everything has to stop for a time – a few days, a week sometimes depending what I catch – before I can resume normal operations.
On a larger scale, as I ponder the current pandemic and think about how much has changed even since my last post 6 days ago, it seems to me a similar type of thing has happened to planet Earth. We’re sick with a lot of things. Pollution, exploitation, excessive bureaucracy, propaganda, lack of rights and benefits and healthcare, pride, exceptionalism, racism – the list goes on. We move at a breakneck pace through our days and we are defined by productivity. The world has pushed itself to its limit, and now we, collectively (though not yet me personally) have gotten sick.
And over the last three or four days, at least around here, everything has begun to stop. Schools are canceled. Restaurants are closed (or only doing takeout and delivery). Some stores have shuttered for a while. My dojo and my yoga studio have gone online with their workouts. Our local theater has called off shows. My church did virtual worship yesterday.
It’s still terrifying, but I also see beauty. We had 21 people do Morning Prayer over Zoom, with all the technological brokenness that entails. Screens froze. People forgot to mute. Kids made faces. I sobbed during the collect for the third Sunday in Lent (look it up and you’ll see why). It was amazing community and it was Kingdom. Yesterday my husband gardened and fed the birds. Today my kids played Legos together and got along better than they had in several years. (Yes, NTI packets were finished first). I have lots of free time now to do all the work – good and necessary work – that I need to get caught up on for my places of employment. I set up a GoFundMe for the aforementioned community theater (shameless plug. We need art y’all).
Two and a half weeks ago I preached a sermon at my church on Ash Wednesday (click here to listen) which used the metaphor of Avengers: Endgame to reference our own mortality, all the things that come as destroyers, reduce us to dust, and say “I am inevitable.” Jesus Christ, I said, stands up to death and to dust and defeats inevitability, just as Tony Stark sacrificed himself in the movie to defeat Thanos, whose name is a derivative of the name of the Greek God of death. (Note: I am not recommending a christological reading of Tony Stark at any other moment in the saga!)
The technical name for this in theology is Christus victor. But around my church it might get referred to as the moment when Christ stands up to death and says “I am Iron Man.”
And then I applied ashes to everyone’s foreheads and said “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
How little did we know how soon we would all be living it out.