When you read this, I will have had the pleasure of watching our niece and her intended take the solemn covenantal vows of marriage unto themselves. This happy event was originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend of last year. But we all know what was happening then: the full force of the pandemic was yet to come.
We thought it couldn’t get any worse. Well, it did. Millions fell ill (and continue to do so) and hundreds of thousands died. Yet, because God has “blessed us with memory, reason, and skill” (BCP 372), we grow in confidence as we emerge from our lockdowns because of extremely effective vaccines. Carefully. Slowly. Gratefully. We take tentative steps toward a “new normal.” The fact remains that we will be forever changed by this experience even as generations past were changed by the traumas that they suffered and endured.
Back to the wedding. Renee and Brian decided to postpone their nuptials and were able to schedule them for this Memorial Day, hoping against hope, that the threat of COVID-19 would have abated. Well, they just made it. Meanwhile, I often catch myself thinking, “Last year we _________” (you fill in the blank), only to catch myself and having to adjust my thoughts, “No, it was two years ago when we ______.”
Like Renee and Brian, the pandemic forced millions of Americans to cancel major life events: weddings and anniversary celebrations, rites of passage and family events, proms and graduation ceremonies, retirement parties. But the outbreak also thwarted plans that cannot be easily rescheduled for the brighter months ahead. In a way, COVID-19 behaved like a thief, stealing precious time that may be lost forever. The pandemic kept us from growing our families, starting careers, visiting elderly loved ones. It deferred dreams. It has reshaped the course of countless lives. Its full impact will most likely not be known to us in this generation. It will be for historians in a future generation to assess just how we were changed.
At St. Luke’s we lost souls from among our own number. Gratefully only a few because of the ravages of the virus. But the havoc wrought by this wretched germ disallowed even the basic processes of grieving and of marking lives well lived for those whom God called unto himself. Like Renee and Brian, we were all told to hang tight, to wait – better days are ahead. Tentatively, we now allow ourselves to believe that those promised better days actually may be dawning.
If we have learned anything from this experience, we ought to have learned that each day is a precious gift and not to be wasted. The film Dead Poets Society made “Carpe diem!” a popular phrase several years ago. Well, now I believe, it takes on new meaning. “Seize the day!” must become a watchword for us who follow the Risen Christ as we see the need for healing and renewal in our world. So that we may be good stewards of time in the days ahead, may our constant prayer be simply this:
Lord, open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to you for solace only and not for strength, for pardon only and not for true renewal. Make us truly one in Christ that we may worthily serve the world in your name. Amen.
With you as a companion on The Way,