Guest column by Jim CastroLang
As I write, the Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic. The president has addressed the nation. The NBA has suspended its season. College basketball is putting the brakes on March Madness. Everywhere I turn events are being canceled. Many churches have canceled in person worship with some experimenting with online worship. The stock market has tanked into a bear market amid uncertainty and fear. By the time you read this many more dramatic things will have happened.
This column is meant to be “Not a polemic nor a tract, but devotional in nature.” This is a space to call us back to God at the center of our existence and our daily lives. his is a space to remember who we are as beloved of God and point us to how we might respond to the opportunities and circumstances of our lives.
As I consider our situation, I can’t get the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) out of my head. There are many dimensions to this story, but it is focused on my internal attitude as I meet an unexpected need of other people in my everyday life. When do I change my plans to help another? How do I help another person? What is my motivation for helping a person in need? Notice that the lawyer who asks Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” is first of all concerned with his own fate — what he needs to do to have eternal life. After hearing the parable, the lawyer gives the right answer, but we can suspect that he is good at giving the expected and right answer. We don’t really know if his heart has been fundamentally reshaped and his spirit sparked in new ways.
The Coronavirus has us all thinking. What is happening inside of you? How are your best impulses showing? How about your worst? How is God’s love present?
A few thoughts from a spiritual perspective:
- This virus reminds us that we are deeply connected to one another in God’s Creation. The Climate Change crisis is reminding us that there is little we can do that doesn’t have world-wide impact. In our every breath, in our every touch, in every decision we make there is a consequence that affects the life of another or the environments that we share. There is no such thing as just living your own life. Put some disciplines in your life to reflect on how you are impacting the life of others — those close and the strangers on the other side. The virus shows the power of our connections for good or for ill.
- This virus may stoke your worst fears. The spiritual journey is about the process of moving through our fears to a trust and a deep peace in knowing we are in God’s loving embrace in life and through death. As the fear dissipates, our lives can be transformed, and we won’t have the urge to stay safe on the other side of the road, abandoning our neighbor out of fear.
- God is the creator of all the realities and processes of our universe. Good science reveals how things work. Learn from that and live with a respect for how God made things to work including your own body, mind, and spirit.
We sit in prayer for the many who are suffering because of this virus. Teach us to “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind and our world-wide neighbors as ourselves.”