“We are Easter People living in a Good Friday world.” – Barbara Johnson
Our adult son Ro (22) is home from college early due to the coronavirus. He’s not too thrilled about finishing his spring classes online because he’d rather interact with his professors and fellow students face to face. Such is the world we live in today though. We adjust.
From birth, Ro has struggled with asthma, especially during the cold and flu season. Jennifer and I have spent many a late night holding him and rocking him while he coughed and wheezed into the early dawn hours. Countless times we have administered nebulizer treatments and doses of steroids and antibiotics to try to mitigate his violent cough which always seemed to settle deep into his lungs. So, we are glad to have him home during this pandemic where we can better care for him and he can care for us as well with his good-natured peaceful presence.
I always remember one cold winter night when Ro was three or four years old. His cough was more violent than normal. He struggled to breathe. Nothing—cough syrup, the nebulizer treatments, his medication, gently holding him and rocking him—nothing could loosen and calm his cough. We decided to take him to the emergency room at Pioneer Hospital in Meeker. I remember so clearly placing his wrecked body in the car seat as he coughed and coughed and coughed. Each breath was an effort. Between a coughing spell on the way to the hospital, Ro looked at me desperately with his wide vulnerable greenish brown eyes and said, “Daddy, am I going to die?”
His question pierced my heart. Our young innocent son could die. I felt powerless.
Each day and night we hear the grim news about the spread of the coronavirus. One website reported 1,093,109 cases world-wide and 58, 729 deaths. At the president’s new conference earlier this week health officials were predicting 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the United States. This week Montezuma County reported our county’s first death from the coronavirus. Many are dying, and we or someone close to us could be among the casualties. Our son’s words echo in my heart.
We are Easter people living in a Good Friday world.
Father Ron Rolheiser in his enlightened book, “Sacred Fire,” says, “All of us, without exception, irrespective of age and health, are vulnerable, contingent, mortal, one heartbeat away from leaving this planet, one stroke away from losing control of our lives.” What makes the coronavirus so scary is how little control we have over it. We can wash our hands repeatedly, we can stay at home, we can wash our food before we eat it, and we can do everything right but still contract the virus. Rolheiser says, “We can be careful with our lives, live prudently, try to ensure the safety and the safety of our loved ones, but ultimately we are inadequate. We cannot ensure our own continued heartbeat. So, what can we do?”
We can be faithful, and I don’t mean that in a glib or superficial way. “We can always try to keep our touches (interactions) warm, in case they are our last ones.” We can tell our family and peers we love them and listen to their stories of hope and fear. We can reach out to friends and rekindle warm memories and relationships. We can forgive. We can try to be on peaceful terms with everyone. We can offer blessings to each person we see. We can be Christ’s love, peace, patience, gentleness, and faithfulness in the world.
Father Richard Rohr states, “We are clearly not in control, as this pandemic is now teaching the whole planet. For many of us, this may be the first time in our lives that we have felt so little control over our own destiny and the destiny of those we love.” However, Christ invites us to walk in faith. We can be gentle, kind, patient, and supportive of one another. This is faithfulness.
John Powel wrote, “There are two potential tragedies in life and dying young is not one of them. These are the two potential tragedies: To live and not to love and to love and to never express that affection and appreciation.” During this tragic pandemic, with the infected and sick growing exponentially and the death toll rising, may we stand in warmth, love, and compassion. May we stand united. We cannot guarantee life, but we can commit to love as Christ loves us. May we be ever faithful.
For we are Easter people living in a Good Friday world. Amen.
Blessings and peace to all of you,
This Sunday is Passion/Palm Sunday. At 12 noon, I will ring our church bells along with our Catholic brothers and sisters. Wherever you are at that time, if you can, go outside and wave some branches, look at the clouds, feel the sun’s warm rays, and say a prayer for those who are suffering, especially the most marginalized. Pray for healing and resurrection. Be hope. Be peace. Be faithful. Be Easter people living in a Good Friday world.