The other day a health worker friend of mine told me she and her husband are singing “my Corona” to the tune of the popular song “My Sharona.” “It’s almost certain I’ll be infected by the coronavirus,” she told me. “But I’ll be okay.” She’s a younger woman, healthy and strong, so I thought she meant that she would likely recover. But in further conversation I learned that this wasn’t what she had in mind. She was saying that no matter what happened, God would be with her.
It reminded me of the Sufi story about the holy man who went on an ocean voyage. A violent storm came up, and the ship was tossed about like a tiny twig in a maelstrom. He remained calm, even cheerful. And so he was an inspiration to the sailors and other passengers with him on the journey. They figured that since he was a holy man he must have a little more protection than the average guy, and that made them less afraid that they would all drown.
One of the sailors wondered about this. So when the storm was over and all was safe he asked the holy man how he had remained unafraid when, truth of the matter was, out on the ocean there was only a thin layer of wood between him and certain death. The wise man said, “Here on the ship there is that thin layer of wood between me and certain death, but when we reach shore and I step off the boat onto the ground, there won’t even be that between me and certain death.”
As the old saying goes, death and taxes are the inevitable things of life. The wise person comes to accept that the end of her life could come at any moment, often from a completely unforeseen direction. And it will come, no matter how arduously we work to be in control.
In Christ, rather than being protected from death we triumph over it. We are assured that God is always with us, in life and through the transition between life and the unfathomable union that comes after. We have nothing to fear. We have absolutely nothing to fear. It was to this fact that Julian of Norwich was referring when she wrote her famous message from Jesus that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
We are called to be ambassadors of this reality. As the author of Ephesians says in today’s reading, “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.”
Rather than worrying about hand sanitizer and toilet paper, we can take pride in finding safer ways to deliver food to people who are hungry. We can bug our town councils about providing places to shelter for those experiencing homelessness. We can reach out by phone and computer to our friends and family who are isolated. We can send money to organizations which are safely providing health care, food and shelter to people who have been infected. We can enjoy walking outside and can take photos to share with those who can’t get out. In millions of ways we can be creative, joyous, and active in love.
Meditate on how you, uniquely, can shine into the world with that which is good and right and true. And rest in the sure knowledge that God is always with you. No matter what.
Photo: “A sunny morning in the neighborhood” taken by the author from her front window while writing.