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“By all means, we’ve got to stay happy! Whatever we can do to keep it going …” she gushed as another chimed in with a joke about hand washing. This morning’s talk show hosts chuckled as they described neighborhoods putting up Christmas lights and chalking driveways and sidewalks with pastel hearts and flowers.

In my perception, such attitudes miss the mark. Many experts also tout keeping busy with on-line work from home, home schooling, home-improvement projects, and keeping track of the pandemic’s swath of global mayhem. In between times, social media assuages social loneliness and fills empty time. Netflix and television dull the urgency of the questions: When will we return to normal, however construed? Will things be different? Will I lose out? How will I manage?

Such busyness frays the fabric of the global community, already dangerously thin with violence and addictive behaviors.

Glaringly absent from this scenario are silence and prayer, and the fact of death, ours included—just relegated to numbers of the stricken on graft charts in states, distant from our own. Such shudders get lodged within stress.

So how quell this inner turmoil and enter the silence of prayer? How let it speak to the grievous circumstances in which we find ourselves? It’s only important to want it, deeply, and to begin. Within our depths, a dear Friend wants our hearts, however scarred.

Psalm 56:11, 13 speaks to such a relationship: …in God I put my trust, fearing nothing…for you have rescued me from Death to walk in the presence of God in the light of the living.

 

 

 

It was eerie: emptiness discomfited me, gnarled at the crusts of my innards, and scraped barnacles from my imagination while the sun-drenched afternoon toasted new budding on the snowflake viburnum outside my study window.

No parents walking their kids home from the elementary school in the next block, no service trucks plying their trades, no deliveries from UPS or FedEx changing gears on our court, no tools whirring or hammering changes into the power lines or landscape.

As a solitary dog-walker trudged up the hill, her chest heaving, a creeping emptiness knifed my sense of life.

I sat in my wing-back chair, closed my eyes, and waited. I remained uneasy and surrendered. Yet, a new courage emboldened me to listen. Within the emptiness an uncanny sense of the Sacred emerged, a wisdom not found in human discourse or books. This was something else.

It hurt: one of the faces of grief.

Yet, a wise potter once said, “We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds what we want.”

A synchronicity of burgeoning occurs for those willing to look: Spring’s coloration and the pandemic’s menace. Both entail energy—one vibrates within jewel-tones of Beauty and the other shivers within denizens of Death. One exalts spirit; the other implodes terror.

Yet, even seeds of dismemberment blemish Spring’s unfolding as subsequent seasons evolve upon the demise of previous ones and address our mortality. Winter’s grieving can be intense, but it does not end there. Spring’s greening arrives with gusto. Such is experienced in Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (1717), a group of four violin concertos that quicken imaginations, that enfold spirits within Beauty’s kiss, that enrich sensibilities, that loosen rigidity, and catapult into deeper Life.

True, the pandemic and Winter snuff out life as we know it, but death in its myriad forms has always lurked behind our blind spots, just waiting. I used to say, “Since our mother lived to be ninety-nine years old, I don’t have to hurry to finish my book. It’ll get done.” But it didn’t work out that way.

Perhaps such burgeoning of energy begs a revision of our concept of God. In the prophet Isaiah we find an astounding revelation: I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. 45:7

Certainly not that God wants our misery, given the miracle of birth and subsequent development. Joy does abound within the fabric of our humanness.

Contemplating such truth orients us to the deepest of mysteries where we experience ultimate Life and rejoice, far beyond our imagining.

 

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