Community Reflections & Medidations
During the COVID-19 Pandemic
G. Thomas Ryan Eastham MA
for the Eastham Public Library
HOPE IN THE DARK PANDEMIC
There is much in this pandemic that is sad, even heartbreaking. Living with others, you may feel the walls coming in sometimes. Living alone, the opportunities to feel lonely abound. And the problems of our world – from an inability to pay rent or mortgage, to our Wampanoag neighbors facing disestablishment, to elected officials intensifying the problems – can make the most hope-filled of us shudder.
The darkness we sense as a pall over us, or chains around our torso, is normal. This is the first time in human history with a pandemic where 24/7 we know more than our own village. Who doesn’t feel the palpable pain and fear of so much unknowing?
BUT, we can open the shades and windows. We can take slow and deep breaths. Deep in each of us, the flame of hope can be brightened. For some, an early formation in or continued participation in communities of faith have given us stories and practices of hope. Meditation and yoga and less “religious” modes of spirituality can be seen in many. Disciplines of mindfulness and the hard work of caring for others can also nurture hope.
Here are some resources for deepening our inner life, our spirituality. You may find some to be inspirational. Wherever you have been in living hope, this is the time to explore ways to wrestle with darkness, to let hope burn in us, shine for us.
SEEING THE PANDEMIC IN NEW WAYS
From the Ireland-based Abbey of the Arts (Their purpose is “transformative living through contemplative and expressive arts”) – A poem, with music and images,“Praise Song for the pandemic:"
A New Yorker interview last month with the historian Frank Snowden, on the ways epidemics have changed history.
In Time Magazine, and on their website (longer form), an important biblical scholar N T Wright wrote “Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It's Not Supposed To” It offers perspectives on lamentation and hope.
APPRECIATING DARKNESS AS AN OPPORTUNITY
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speech, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” April 3, 1968, in Memphis, his last speech before he was assassinated. He said that there needs to be enough darkness to see the stars.
Of course, his earlier “I Have a Dream” speech instantly became the classic about dreams in the darkness, August 28, 1963.
Richard Rohr’s daily meditations www.cac.org, in these weeks of the pandemic, often return to this theme. See, for example March 26, 2020 - “the Dark Emotions”
Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” begins with “Hello darkness my old friend...” It is strangely evocative in our time, especially for those who knew it from its origin in 1965 and experienced it related to those revolutions.
THINKING ABOUT HOPE IN NEW WAYS
Ross Douthat, in his New York Times column, wrote about hope in “Rational Panic, but Also Rational Hope.” – 3/29/20
From the dark years of World War II in England, T. S. Eliot left us “Four Quartets.” See especially Quartet No. 2, “East Coker”
Dan McCullough wrote about hope in “What energizes homeless workers?” Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, MA) (Hyannis, Massachusetts), March 22, 2020: 13. NewsBank: Newspapers (Cape Cod Times and Boston Metro Titles).
The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures have many passages on darkness and suffering, on hope and patience. These verses of Paul to the Romans are particularly appropriate: Romans 8: 18 - 30
In the Psalms, many laments give way to hope. See, for example, Psalm 22
This poem is by a frequent visitor to our library: "So Many"
MEDITATING, PRAYING IN AN INCLUSIVE MANNER
See many poems or meditations in the time of pandemic by Austin Fleming, www.concordpastor.blogspot.com
A website with spiritual reflections and meditations on COVID-19: www.praytellblog.com
Teresa of Avila, a famous mystic and reformer in 16th century Spain, wrote a brief and often-copied poem. “Nada te turbe”: .....”Let nothing disturb you.....” www.getfed.com/nada-te-turbe-teresa-avila-poem-5760
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