Guest Column - Time To Be Grateful For An Unadorned Life
Last updated 4/22/2020 at 3:42pm
Signs of stark contradictions are all around. Even as plump birds rest on their nests and butterflies alight on fiery azaleas, we humans are hunkering down on our couches and binge-watching shows on our favorite streaming service. While white squirrels (and grey ones too) rush around trying to remember where they buried last October’s acorns, we humans are sitting at the kitchen table on hold status, listening to B-grade music as we await an assistant who can help postpone payments until some semblance of our former income returns.
At the time of year when people normally come out of their houses, shed their winter garb, crank up the gas grill and invite the neighbors over, this spring we sit tight and await further instruction about when we can return to the classroom, the house of worship or the stores we didn’t realize were so non-essential.
Our weeks now feel like a whiplash. We perk up when we see some people shopping for their neighbors, looking out for those who have no family to lean on. But then we observe others crashing innocent Zoom meetings with obscene language and signs. We greet grocery store clerks working long shifts standing on hard concrete floors, yet who still serve with a smile and comment on how good those cookies are that we stashed in our cart. But then we groan at scamming stories of people trying to sell PPE that doesn’t even exist to needy hospitals and governing bodies.
Despite the contradictions within and all around us, there is boundless opportunity in this current global dilemma for us to hold firm to what is good and just in our world. There is ample opportunity to become re-acquainted with the values of the generations who preceded us. These were people who had obviously learned the art of persevering in tough times — even without smart phones!
Jesus is quoted to have said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” I’m sure he wasn’t the first person in the Jewish tradition to utter those words, but he certainly made sure he not only offered them as advice, but also practiced them in daily living. How simple, yet challenging that would be for each of us to apply that “golden rule” as the yardstick for our response to the challenges that present themselves daily. Turning it around to say “How would I like to be treated in this situation?” provides some solid ground on which to build our character and integrity in these testing times.
It is beyond easy to fall into the pit of hopelessness in these days that are so indistinguishable. Yet we may find a switch within us that flips on and permits us to go farther than we thought ourselves capable. We may stretch to find a place within us that is far more willing to suffer for the livelihood of those we may never know personally. And we may find that when this mega-crisis finally dissipates we find ourselves in its wake much more grateful for the simple gift of unadorned life.
(Albright lives in Pisgah Forest and is the pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Brevard.)