Much is, has been, and will continue to be written about this particular time. It is a time similar to past pandemics. But it is also unique; if only because it is being lived in the here and now, and the here and now is unique if only because it is not the then and there.
But what does all this mean? Frankly, I don’t know. I am as eternally confused as you. How is it that a microscopic organism can appear and in a flash, create chaos and shutdown life as we know it? Who knew just a couple of months ago that the context of our lives was about to change in ways that we are only at the cusp of experiencing, let alone understanding?
One place that some have returned for understanding and hoped-for peace and guidance is religion and spirituality. This turning comes with a desire to understand the worldly real and immediately tangible through the lens of the spiritual or religious. Such turning is not uncommon, particularly in times of profound unease and distress. There is something about arenas in which faith, trust, and even hope are paramount that draws us in when life abruptly changes and is enshrouded by confusion and vulnerability.
Such turning is not new. It has been what humans have done from that moment in which we discovered our awareness and began to try to understand the world in which we lived.
Those who first looked into the sky and wondered about its immensity were enveloped by a sense of mystery that brought them to their knees. They were enraptured by not only grandeur and beauty, but also by their profound vulnerability.
But as time passed and humans garnered some understanding about the world and universe, there was a reorientation. Humans sensed that maybe through ever increasing understanding they might control and manipulate the world to specifically serve their own devices, needs and pleasures. By so doing, humans began to falsely, maybe even mindlessly, abstract themselves from the equation of life as calculated by the world and universe.
Spirituality and religion remained, but they became another part of the human calculation. Humans came to think that they had the comprehension to choose to subscribe, rather than believing that when it came to divine mystery, it was they who were being chosen. And in such contexts, particularly in those places of high-minded modern living, life was increasingly lived as if the original mysteries and magnitude of the world and universe were under control.
Then a microscopic creature appears, and all that imagined control comes to an abrupt stop. And people return to the contexts, writings, wisdom, and mysteries of the spiritual and religious. But this is difficult when so much of life and living is predicated not on the mysteries of creation but on human understanding.
One of the current struggles in our lives is that these two do not have to be in conflict. There is room for both. It is within faith that hope can continue even in the most difficult of times. It is in faith that we can hope in humans’ ability to find a means to live into the current time and hopefully treat and modulate this latest reminder of humans’ vulnerability within the grandeur of all creation.
This paradox of human existence remains unchanged from what it was at the beginning of human curiosity. Over the ages, each time that it seemed like we had things figured out, we found out how little we knew. So, we live simultaneously within both faith and curiosity. Hopefully, we learn that the more we think we know, the less we may understand. And by such understanding, our lives may become more complete.
Pastor Richard Krebs, also known as PadreK!, is a pastor, chaplain, and writer about the mysteries that lie within all of living.