My wife bore three sons. That was 27 months of pregnancy. Each time, about month 4, the urpy-slurpy morning-sickness stage was over, the baby-bump was beginning to stretch clothes, and a future joy was being anticipated, but the due date wasn’t much more than a date on the calendar. We knew we’d get there eventually, but nobody was crossing days off yet. We spent the days tending to the growing life, taking care of mother, and preparing the home.
It has been said that the Coronavirus will change American society, and somehow, I believe it. We faced SARS and MERS, but both of them pale in comparison to the magnitude of COVID-19. This one has us all running for cover, washing our hands, yearning to touch but knowing better than, suspending all but essential activities. Somehow communal prayer is not considered an essential activity by the government, so we for whom such activities are life-giving are inventing ways to do it virtually, through the cleansing distance of the internet. It’s a strange new world, and I don’t like it. And I can’t see the end.
Oh, we know that Wuhan is on the down-slope now after two months of horror. We know we, too, will peak, and the unseen enemy will slip into the underworld into which SARS disappeared, or become one of the harder-hitting childhood colds everyone gets and gets over. We know we will be allowed to get out and about again, to congregate, to hug one another without being afraid. The time between now and then is fuzzy, making it hard, especially at the beginning. But maybe we are birthing something.
I hope we are birthing a grass-roots appreciation for one another, the more heart-felt need for community, greater capacity to build public trust, and gratitude for the gift of common life. In my druthers, all of those would lead also to a holy wonder at the great dance of Earth-Maker, Pain-Bearer and Life-Giver* from which the gift of life comes, along with all our siblings in this world, human and otherwise, and the wide, wise earth we share with everyone.
Maybe we can’t mark the due date on the calendar, but it will surely come. We must spend the days tending the growing grass-roots community life, caring for the mothering of which we are all capable, and preparing our homes for the new normal.
*language borrowed from a rendition of the Our Father from the New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 181.