Our family had the big old 2020 Covid scare. Each case of the illness is unique but I’m sure most of you are familiar with the process. So-and-so was near such and such who had dinner with you-know-who, who then tested positive for Covid. Do I have it now? Who have I been near? Will it be a bad case or a minor one if I do get it? Test, quarantine, wait, hope and try not to be too scared of the worst case scenario.
This is our second scare and I was mainly thinking about death whereas my son was lamenting the fact that his 18th birthday party had to be cancelled. This time he was feeling sick as well as finding out he was exposed, even though our steps have been few this year, meaning we have taken many precautions.
Sickness, ugh I hate it. I remember a sect I ran into during my years in the Christian church, who always denied sickness. To make a long story short, they took one or two Bible verses and made them the only ones. Some preachers made a mint off of the whole thing, and probably still do. A girl told me the story about how she was not sick, but was in fact vomiting and sending up some sort of prayers about how she wasn’t really sick. The whole thing sounded frightening to me. The faction could not accept sickness as a part of life on earth and tied it to their personal level of faith.
In another group, the weekly prayer list was a thing. Prayers for the sick were predominant. Uncle John’s mother-in-law’s cousin’s sciatica and the like. From the media accounts today, I’d guess those groups are praying specifically that their people won’t get Covid. The objective reality is that diseases come and go on earth and a lot of someones are getting them. Hell no, I don’t want it, I don’t want my son to have it, or anyone else I love, but the prayers seem somehow cruel. Because if it’s a fact and we pray for our people not to get it aren’t we also, in a sense, praying for someone else to be the unlucky bastard?
Stick with me here, isn’t it also true that feeling bad for a period of time can strengthen us? Or help us appreciate our health? And doesn’t being in need from time to time give someone else the opportunity to reach out and help? Or sometimes, give us independent types the ability to receive love in a practical way?
Isn’t life a little bit more complex than good and bad, just like people are complex? One of the original doctors, Paracelsus, is quoted as saying, “All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.” The same thing is said in a hilarious proverb, “If you find honey, eat just enough, too much of it, and you will vomit.” (Proverbs 25:16 NIV). You know, the whole “too much of a good thing” saying.
This year has been such a challenge. I’m no medical professional, so I can’t really speak about those details, but I can speak about the torrent of judgement and condemnation the new virus has revealed. For instance, I’m sure someone out there is thinking that since I have had this scare more than once that I must be doing something wrong in my way of handling my family’s movements. But there is a difference between irrational behavior and making choices based on reality. Anyone who reaches my age has had to take a lot of medicine over time and knows that there is always a price, always a risk. Will the cure be worse than the disease? If I take this to make that better, what will get worse? If we are honest with ourselves when in the middle of a crisis, we know that no one can see all the way to the end. We have to move forward on our best educated guesses where there is the least amount of uncertainty. But we can never be certain, not really. We don’t really know what the final analysis will be, well, until it’s over.
Sometimes it will be years later when in hindsight we see how we could have done things better, privately and corporately. The death toll and health toll is mind boggling this year, but not just in the realm of the new disease. We may not be able to see it in full now, but there are and will be consequences from the way we have handled it all, again, individually and corporately. My idea here is not to prove something. I am not all-knowing and am not condemning anyone who is in charge of public policy, but I am asking for some multi-variable perspective. Let’s not live in denial like my “nonsick” acquaintance, we made tradeoffs, some lives for other lives. That is our harsh reality.
A friend of mine shared her biggest takeaway from 2020 in the few simple words, “Find what matters, let it be enough.” I love that and want to join her on this quest. I believe remembering that whoever we are and whatever our choices are, we must remember that there is always a price. That price is a prodigious part of doing what matters.
There will be tradeoffs. Something will have to give in one area if we want to prioritize what matters in the complexity of life. I’d say that a little hope goes a long way too. If what looks bad can sometimes bring about good, there is always a way in the darkness.
Featured Art: Virginia Lee