This very costly, disruptive crisis of COVID-19 cannot be wasted. In the Spirit of Easter we have the opportunity to reframe so much in our lives, nation and world as we pause in isolation.
Permeation of the virus into our country, lives and bodies has had the effect of directing focus on survival, at the lower end of Maslow’s hierarchy. For way too long pre-eminence has been given to fake crises of self-realisation at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, as so many sought meaning and relevance by righteously pursuing moral causes of newer gods, while casting judgement and damnation on lesser mortals and denialists.
Over recent times, the ‘Palm Sunday’ parade lauding elites now must confront the grinding reality of the suffering of survival. Climate catastrophe projected in 100 years has given way to a more immanent pandemic, as have gender fluidity, identity politics, diversity, equality, colonialism, refugees and a host of other social posturing by leaders in business, academe, legal, non-profit and government agencies. Instead, these elites have had to pull in their heads to focus on their day jobs in order to contribute to the national effort to overcome the challenge. We are in this together.
Many, like me, may have wondered how long the decline in common sense that fostered false gods could prevail. (Lord here my prayer). Yet over a few weeks and months, as a result of bat soup in Wuhan, China, the ground has shifted globally to bring about an entirely new perspective. Like a butterfly stirring in the Amazon, corona virus ripples flow out across the globe in an invisible toxic mist.
The call to sacrifice
Right now is the hard part, the ‘Garden of Gethsemane’, where tears of blood may be shed in the anguish and uncertainty of what lies ahead. ‘Stay an hour with me’, may be the prayer of the isolated, the lonely and those despairing of how to manage through the tunnel of the wave of crisis as rent and mortgage need to be paid without assured income. Those in business confront multiple excruciating crises of how or whether to pay the rent, keep the business going and maintain loyal workers. A kind word or offer of help can ease the burden as we trudge forward carrying the cross of our own responsibility for doing our bit towards prevention and survival.
The call to sacrifice is being answered by so many for which we thank them: front line health care and ancillary workers have stepped up. Transport and retail workers keep grocery stores and open, stocked and orderly. First responders again put their lives on the line. Business owners and workers have become innovative to continue to service customers.
An essential element of my Maturity Model, individual responsibility, calls us to isolate, take all sanitation measures, care for self and family and work from home where feasible. Trimming back former accepted ways of living may be necessary to reduce expenses to match reduced circumstances and options. The cross of compromise may be necessary to refresh intimate relationships if they are to survive the crisis intact, if not renewed.
Challenges of the crisis call to sacrifice and adapt are numerous, yet so many have shown tremendous capacity to draw on inner strength of spirit previously untapped to respond with generosity and compassion. May that same spirit continue into the future as we deal with the aftermath of a difficult pandemic for which we are not to blame and over which we have little control beyond individual responsibility.
Death and resurrection
Loss is a very real manifestation of death on the way to dying – practice, if you like, for the ultimate. Loss needs to named and mourned if we are to move beyond grief to the prospect of the transformation of the resurrection.
There is no realistic shortcut. Our metaphorical three days in the tomb can be fruitfully used in prayer and meditation, letting go of the unnecessary, planning for a practical, more compassionate way forward, with renewed consideration in our homes and workplaces.
The pandemic crisis has become a wake-up call, not just to us as individuals, but to our national government and the world order. Relationships with China and its inexorable move to dominate the world will be challenged and changed. Just as individuals have been called upon to be more resilient and self-reliant, so has our country. That would be a good thing – a transformative resurrection.
Crisis has granted us a once in a lifetime opportunity to step out of normal routines to readjust, if painfully. Exit from crisis, according to the Whiteheads, requires assertive action. Go to it.
As our 93 year old Queen Elizabeth said from her depth of experience, “We will survive, we will meet again”.
May all of us, whether believers or not, be infused with the spirit of Easter – the solemnity and the sacrifice – so that in the coming days we will be transformed to flourish in the joy of the resurrection as life returns to a new normal.