I know the plans I have in mind for you—it is Yahweh who speaks—plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope for you. So wrote the prophet Jeremiah to the elders, priests, and prophets exiled by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon in 598 B.C.E.

Such encouragement speaks to today’s exilic experience, filled with psychic and physical suffering, provoked by the global pandemic and nationwide civil unrest. Hankering for the “flesh pots of Egypt” or the old ways appear to be diminishing as the new normal solidifies attitudes and behaviors. Cries of “Justice!” on the streets are beginning to lose their clout. Yet wariness persists among the masked and gloved studying the lay of the land before taking the next step.

Still pinioned by uncertainty, I join others praying for the resolution of this madness. Like chemical spills poisoning saturated zones of water tables, anger seeps into organs and joints, bludgeoning their functions and accelerating more disease and more protests. Such ruckus leaves scant room for inner reflection, for owning prejudices of whatever stripe and letting them go.

Certainly Higher Power wants us to thrive, to live as relational beings in union with Him, and not within self-imposed exile, for that’s what it is.