Friday, July 24, 2020

Is "All The Strangeness" Wearing You Out?

I know a lot of people are having a hard time with all the strangeness that has descended upon our lives this year. I know it has been hard for me.

No matter what our circumstances are, or how much it has affected us "directly," there is no shame in acknowledging that The Pandemic has been (and continues to be) difficult, perplexing, frustrating, confining, nerve-wracking, frightening, exhausting — some combination of these or other similar characteristics are spinning our lives closer to "the edge" than we would like to be right now.

People are suffering in many different ways.

Suffering resists comprehension; it can't be entirely explained by categories or degrees. In one sense, certainly, we can "measure" it. We can say that it's objectively "harder" to be stuck in a refugee camp or a slum than it is to be stuck in a large house with first-world comforts. But how does one gauge the depths of suffering in the lives of persons who are afflicted by it?

There is an aspect of our pain that is profoundly personal. We need to remember this, especially now. We need to respond to one another with compassion.

Above all, this is a matter for the heart. It is a disposition to be cultivated and to be recalled again and again when we have forgotten it. We are on "the edge," after all, and we may well get impatient or angry with one another. We may also get down on ourselves. But we can't let these moments define us.

We must forgive one another, and seek to travel this difficult stage of life's journey together, aspiring to a greater openness to one another, a greater love, a greater sense of solidarity.

But what does this aspiration really entail? It might appear to be an "ideal" beyond our reach, because we are so fragile, so wounded, so afflicted and floundering in the continual weakening of our resources and shrinking of our capacities. It's humbling to be reminded of our limits, and to confront the immensity of our fundamental needs.

This is not, however, the moment to "give up." Rather, it is the moment to recognize and to seek something beyond ourselves: a source of healing and the capacity to begin again, to be renewed.