Walking Our Faith: This virus could be the uniting force that heals our country
This moment feels as if we are preparing for war. While the enemy looks similar to foes we’ve faced in the past, the full frontier of the battlefield remains uncharted. But as in previous times of war or national crisis, I know God is with us and for us. We will survive this, but more importantly, we must grasp the opportunity to come out stronger than before.
Our country is deeply divided along political lines, but today we can unite in human goodness. This virus may be the uniting force that actually heals our country.
In my imagination, my adopted hometown of Breckenridge is a mountain kingdom where nothing bad from the outside world can reach us. The people here seem kinder and more patient with one another and perhaps it is because we are surrounded with such extraordinary natural beauty that we feel blessed and safe. And so kindness falls easily upon us, and we are not anxious to let it slip from our shoulders.
Yet every so often, a news headline will scroll across my screen to remind me that this is not a fairytale kingdom, that we are very much a part of the real world, and the challenges faced there will visit us here, as well.
This time, it’s a virus that is harmless for some but fatal for others, a virus that necessitates us to physically distance ourselves from one another at a time when we most desire the comfort of a hug.
I worry about my mother who is 2,000 miles away and 93 years old. We spoke this morning, as we do each day, but today spoke of what she is doing to protect her health, because it is the elderly who are most at risk for the serious consequences of the coronavirus.
This morning I read of churches closing across the country in an abundance of caution to diminish the spread of the virus, especially for their elderly church goers, the most vulnerable population who are also the most loyal. After I read this, I recall that just last night I sat around a long table with 18 people of my parish, joined in a beautiful evening of Bible study and discussion led by Father Emmanuel at St. Mary’s. And I am reminded how important community is to our walk of faith and what might be lost in the short term if we have to pause our Bible studies and community worship.
But location doesn’t change God’s love for us. So now is the time to remember that God’s love will strengthen us and that he has called us to love one another.
Now, we are called to remember the story of the Good Samaritan. In as much as we care for ourselves during this pandemic, we are challenged to care for others, as well. If we are compelled for health reasons to isolate ourselves at home, I hope we will reach out to one another via phone or email or text message, to touch base, to offer comfort, especially for those who live alone.
This moment is rich with opportunity for unity and commonsense in the midst of dire rhetoric. Let God’s command that we love our neighbor, and the example of the good Samaritan, be our inspiration. Instead of turning our backs and hoarding our toilet paper, instead of allowing fear to creep beneath the doors of our homes, let’s remember who we are as a community and as a country.
Here are a few practical ideas of what a good Samaritan might do now:
“You can help by canceling anything that requires a group gathering. You can help by not using the medical system unless it is urgent. You can help by staying home if you are sick. You can help by cooking or shopping or doing errands for a friend who needs to stay home. You can help by watching someone’s kid if they need to cover for someone else at work. You can help by ordering take-out from your local restaurants. Eat the food yourself or find someone who needs it. You can help by offering to help bring someone’s college student home or house out-of-town students if you have extra rooms. You can help by asking yourself, ‘What can I and my family do to help? What can we offer?’ You can help by seeing yourself as part of something bigger than yourself.” — author Gretchen Schmelzer
We as a nation have never turned our backs on challenging times, and it is just such times that bring out the best in us. Let us remember that we are the hands and feet of God in our communities. We can each make a difference in the lives of someone who is struggling during this time, whether physically or emotionally. God’s love is never failing. Let’s use that love to strengthen those who are weak or isolated.
Let us be good Samaritans to one another in generosity and encouragement and remembering that we face an opportunity to not only overcome the challenge of how this virus may change our lives, but remembering God’s love for us and ours for one another can be the fortifying strength that unites us. Let us share God’s love with one another, even if at arm’s length.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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