Why we need lament: because no matter the bitter partisanship we have devolved to, we are nearing 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. These are lives lost. Young to old. Poor to rich. Across all ethnic lines. These are lives to remember. These represent families with deep loss in this time of pandemic.
The New York Times put the names of those lost on their front page this weekend. We lament lives lost. We lament with the families who remain.
We are in the midst of the most widespread societal upheaval that many people alive today have ever experienced. Already our institutions, habits, relationships, and culture are shifting before our eyes. Frank M. Snowden, author of Epidemics and Society, shared with the New Yorker, “Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are.” The question we are facing is not whether we will experience sorrow and change; the question is how. As biblical prophets walked with people through catastrophes, their advice was never to just endure until it ends. Instead they focused on proactively changing relationships with each other and with God. (More on this article HERE.)
I’m starting to see people post how many days they’ve had “stay at home orders” in the U.S. I’m also seeing more and more apocalyptic prophecies from the fundamentalist corner of American Christianity… so some coronavirus vaccine shot will soon be the mark of the beast or something before too long.
We live in Alabama so we had our first full day of some slight changes. All retail can open with restrictions on social distancing and capacity levels. Restaurants can’t have dine-in, no barbershops can open, nor can gyms. But the biggie for Alabama is the beaches opened today, but they are monitoring social distancing.
We were able to visit the beach in Alabama last night. The governor relaxed orders on the beach, asking everyone to still be responsible in social distancing. Our family walked the shore of the Gulf at sunset.
The birds were feeding like crazy. We saw a lot of dolphins, baby sharks (just so THAT song gets stuck in your head like it has mine), sting rays, and more. Sea life is much closer to shore because the shore has been given a break. Nature has taken a sabbatical. It felt fresh.
In all our human grumbling and chafing and political posturing, have we rested?
I know I have twisted and squirmed and wrestled in this time. Yet, that walk at the shore calmed me. Nature had taken advantage of the sabbath rest. Have I?
Over the last couple of years I have toyed around with a book. I have a working title: “Living in Babylon.” Last year I sat down and put all my notes together so I could have some sense of what I had studied over the 2-3 years I had been picking at it.
As I write this, the United States has come to the cusp of 60,000 deaths from coronavirus. That is over the number of American lives lost in the entirety of the Vietnam War. In six weeks.