When I found out schools were cancelled here in Maryland last week, I began thinking about how long this interruption would last. How long it would be until I got back to living my life? I imagine I am not the only person who pondered that question. Of course, though it was only one week ago, the situation has evolved rapidly, and what I thought at first would be a slightly extended spring break is now a major disruption for society at large.
I have had to come to terms with this mindset change: This period of closures and public anxiety is not an interruption of my life that I have to endure for weeks or months until things get back to normal. This is my life. John Lennon famously put it like this:
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”John Lennon
So my exhortation for myself and everyone else at this time is to not let the lives we are living now pass us by as we long for a return to normalcy. Instead, let us engage creatively with our new situation. What possibilities are there for us to work differently, to connect, to support and love each other in ways that we would never have considered before? As difficult as this time is, it is in some ways a golden opportunity for innovation. Creativity is stimulated by limitations. And it is an opportunity for us to be present in a unique way in the lives of whoever is stuck in the same house with us.
It is also a very hard-to-ignore reminder that any control of our lives that we think we have is an illusion. Our lives can change very quickly and without warning, and we are all living in the middle of that right now. In our moment of awareness of our weakness, this quote from Jesus reminds me of where our provision has always come from:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Jesus, Matthew 6:25-34 ESV