Why are we experiencing this pandemic? Is God furious with us?
Everything in the natural world is potent with spiritual meaning, and the Covid-19 Global pandemic is no different. We are having a global experience, like at no other time in history.
And in the most practical and necessary ways, we are doing what we do in a crisis. We are seeking to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. We are putting ourselves and our loved ones first, and in doing so we have the chance to look in the face how well a world built on selfishness really works–for many of us this is the first time.
We have had to sit with the reality that those who can afford to, are able to stay home, to stay safe, to socially distance and to order delivery. While the large swath of people living–already with barely enough to survive–have had to simply add the risk of Covid to the long list of other risks that they must live with every day.
This pandemic has been a collective time-out for all the people of the world who have enough. We’ve been given this time when we can’t strive for anything, not in the way we used to. This hasn’t been a time of building, or launching. (Except for the Billionaire rocket club! Of course!!! They are so uncomfortable looking at the suffering of others they’ve had to leave the planet!) But for the bulk of us, working from home, trying to keep our lives afloat, in this stillness we’ve been given the chance to consider why it’s okay for so many people of the world to not have enough. We can now see the ways our selfish pursuits have given us tunnel vision for the suffering of others. Made our drive for success and wealth, prestige, and a big home more important than whether those to either side of us eat, have someplace warm to sleep, or die of Covid-19.
Emanuel Swedenborg told us that before evil can be eliminated it must first be seen, and it is my hope and my prayer that this is the spiritual potential of this moment. It is my prayer that those of us in comfortable homes have become slightly less comfortable, less mesmerized by our trinkets and trophies, and more interested in lessening the suffering of the world. At this moment when we have built an undeniably connected and interdependent world, where farmers in Idaho can watch farmers in Africa on YouTube, maybe we can start to see ourselves–perhaps for the first time–as one human family. To see the importance of taking care of others just as strongly as the need to take care of ourselves.
Selfishness is inborn, from our head to our toes. It’s the human condition. And it has served us. Mostly. Until now. Now our planet is in peril. Now the reality of human diversity is expanding exponentially. Now we really do need to decide if every human being is worthwhile, and deserving of our collective care.
This, to me, is where the spiritual potential of this moment comes in. We have a choice. We can respond to this discomfort by doubling down on our specialness, turning away from the truths that are being revealed and find some new life to live in, or we can let in the suffering, let in the truth. We can remember what Jesus taught, that we are one body, one people, one world and that suffering anywhere affects us all everywhere. We can start to rebuild. We can put our faith into action to create a new world where every baby born is celebrated and given what they need to thrive. I do not for a second think it will be easy. Selfishness is the sea in which we currently swim, the landscape of our lives. We will be blocked at every corner. But what else is worth our time? For what other reason do we have to be here? Forgiveness and change are possible, and love is our whole purpose for being. Not loving only ourselves, but loving beyond ourselves. It’s as simple and difficult as that.
Meet Rev. Sage Cole
Rev. Sage is the Pastor of the Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.