Love in the Time of Apocalypse
Updated: Mar 17, 2020
When the governor closed down everything in the state except for grocery stores and pharmacies, I was holding Paul in my arms. We were listening to The Air That I Breathe by the Hollies and all I could feel when I read Governor Inslee's declaration was relief.
It isn't that I was incognizant then of the great dangers we face now. We will face dangers. This pandemic will get worse in this country before it gets better. This will be a painful passage, a great and terrible pain, an agony that will sear itself into the body of this country for a hundred years or more. Whenever we try to move, its scar will contract and impede us. We will feel it. I am too much a student of history to believe otherwise.
But still my relief greatly overpowered my horror and my sadness because we were finally doing something real. We were no longer waiting, or denying. Now we were acting, and acting together. And despite the great horrors and losses and the terrible choices which some of us will be forced to make on behalf of the greater good, now we were doing for the sake of others, not only for our own sakes.
I felt the very nature of the problem shift; I felt the fabric of the here and now move around me and ripple and settle itself into a new drape. I understood all at once that we had crossed a threshold. Behind us, only moments behind us, there lay an old paradigm, an old and rotting way. We had just put out our hands and taken hold of a new future. That future is still far off. We stand at a shadowed threshold, where we can't see much except for the shadows themselves. But far along a new horizon, we can see a bright dawn gathering.
Death surrounds life, just as life surrounds death. No one lives without something else dying. And nothing dies without sustaining other lives. We imagine ourselves creatures removed from death's reach, sheltering apart where it cannot touch us, but we aren't; we never can be. Nothing that lives may separate itself from the great closer of the circle. The world will not go back to what it was before last night; the circle is closed; we have gone around the ring.
Now we begin a new revolution. This time, as we turn together, we will choose what life arises from the death of the old world we had known, a world we'd thought so fixed and powerful it never could die. We are midwives ushering in an infant life. It will be our task to set this new world on its feet and guide it by the hand and teach it how to be gentle and merciful and loving and good.
We have already crossed the threshold. We already stand with our arms outstretched, ready to catch this new life as it falls wet and shocked and screaming through the bright air, this miraculous new thing wrenched unexpectedly from the womb. There is no going back from here. There is only moving forward.
We can. We will. We are doing it now; this is the beginning. We will bury our dead. We will comfort the hearts of those who must grieve, and those whose spirits will be wounded by the decisions they will be forced to make. Then we will bury the old world, and from its rich decay, our new one will rise and flourish.