Normal life evaporated in Ireland today. It’s like the nation caught the virus, and went to bed. Schools are closed, events are cancelled, and the streets are getting quiet (although the shops have been crazy). It feels like the world is turning upside down, burying the life we’re used to and bringing up uncertainty and fear in its place. And the fear is real.
No one knows for sure when this will end, or what it will cost us in lives and livelihoods. We do know this, though: Normal life is good. We already miss it. And maybe that’s a silver lining to these dark clouds – we remember what we love. The steady rhythms of normal life can make us sleepy and distracted, but now we’re awake. Now we remember:
The Value Of Life
The justification for all this upheaval is to protect lives, especially those that are most vulnerable. In other words, at this moment the whole world is united in seeking to preserve life, even if it causes us economic pain. We may have trouble agreeing on which measures should be used when, but it’s nice to hear people agreeing about the value of life, whether healthy or vulnerable, old or young. For all our theories about human origins, we are (most of us) not so heartless as to actually promote the idea that the survival of the fittest is a workable solution for real people in real life. That’s a good thing. It’s also a strong indication that we were never made to survive at the expense of others.
The Certainty Of Death
Long before the coronavirus hit, the death rate for humanity was already stable at 100%. Normal life tends to hide this from us by separating the sick and dying into care homes and hospitals, and by providing anaesthetics for our pain. Now that normal life has given way to a pandemic with no vaccine, we’ve suddenly remembered death. That sounds bad, and it is – death is a curse, after all. But there’s a positive side as well: We’ll live today better if we remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed. We’ll also see the greatness and importance of the gift Jesus bought for us with his life, taking our curse on himself and rising again to offer us life beyond the grave, if we will trust him. When death is abroad (when is it not?), we remember that this gift is our greatest need. Nothing else even comes close. Without it, we are lost. With it, death is the one who loses.
The Importance Of Connections
The government told us that the way we come together in this is to stay apart. That makes sense right now, but usually it would be madness. Humans are made for community, for sharing joys and burdens, for conversations over tea, songs at church, shouldering projects together, dancing at weddings together, and crying at funerals together. When we can’t travel or shake hands or meet in groups, we lose something we need: each other. Which is why it’s so important that in the weeks of isolation ahead of us, we reach out. No, not to shake hands, but to find ways to look after those who are struggling with health or finances or fear or who need help with childcare, or just need to know someone cares.
These days may not be normal, but remembering these things should be.