I woke this morning before dawn and went outside into the chilly almost-spring air. As I watched the sky fade from black to that early morning blue, stars twinkling out one by one, all at once I was struck by the unusual quiet of the moment. Birds were chirping, my wind chime was singing a soft melody, and the breeze was rustling the tree branches, and that was…it. Even at that early hour I usually hear the hum of cars, the beeping of horns, the low rumble of traffic from busy streets not too far away. But not this morning. It was strangely, blissfully still.
We are living in strange times. And these strange times came upon us all of sudden, so it feels like the life we knew was snatched from our hands without a moment’s notice. We are undoubtedly experiencing fear – fear about our well-being and of those we love, fear about the economic impact this pandemic will have, fear about our community and nation’s ability to respond to the very real needs of people around us. And we are undoubtedly experiencing disorientation – the habits, routines, and services we have been relying upon are likely no longer available to us. It feels so surreal. And it’s all too easy to get swept up in the anxiety that accompanies crisis. It’s all too easy to fret over what terrible things may happen, what difficulties are happening, that we get swept up into a different kind of pandemic – a spiritual, emotional pandemic that sickens our ability to find hope and joy.
Which is why those early morning moments were a gift for me. Because they reminded me that when all the noise and bustle, when all the busyness and activity of life are stripped away, what’s left is the most precious thing of all. What’s left is the people around me, my family, my church family, my neighbors, my friends, all of whom God has given me to love. What’s left is the very Spirit of God living in me, living in you, who calls us deeper and deeper into relationship. Relationship with God. Relationship with one another. What’s left is a holy quietness, a sacred stillness, that invites us to remember what true, abundant life is all about:
Perhaps now more than ever, when everything else is stripped away, we can let that central truth settle deep into our bones, we can let it become ever more central to our lives. So that when life returns to whatever “normal” will come, we can look back at these times and remember not just how strange or sad or scary they were, but how much they taught us to cherish the beauty and strength of love…
To really, truly cherish one another.
And perhaps we’ll finally learn that is the secret to a good life. Maybe we’ll even realize that it has been all this time.