How do we even begin to process what is going on in our world right now?  Borders have closed.  Travel has stopped.  Schools have been suspended.  The way we work is radically different, or nonexistent. We are isolated.  We fear for our health and the health of those around us.  We are uncertain as to our ability to acquire food and other essentials over the coming weeks, or months.  We are questioning if we are over or under reacting.  For the first time in any of our lives, we have truly lost our bearing.  All of us.

Perhaps the most disconcerting reality is that we simply do not know how this will unfold.  We don’t have any answers.  Each day brings more change.  Each day we wonder what will become of our plans and our futures.  We simply do not know what is coming.  And this, is difficult.  I sense we are struggling to balance letting go of things with remaining hopeful; being realistic with being optimistic; adjusting to new realities without abandoning commitments and dreams.

We find ourselves in a space that requires a great deal of patience.  The kind of patience that some people have been forced to wield for all time.  The kind of patience that certain groups have been asked to exhibit at every turn, with every request for answers, and every attempt at resolution.  For those of us living lives accustomed to comfort and security, this is new.  And maybe it is a time for us to learn this skill.  To begin to understand what it feels like to have to wait.

There is an old Spiritual that speaks to this; speaks to the need to be patient and look forward to the promise of what will come, of what can come.  These words are about surviving devastation and calling forth a new world.

My Lord! What a morning;
My Lord! What a morning;
Oh, my Lord! What a morning,
When the stars begin to fall.

You’ll hear the trumpet sound
To wake the nations underground,
Looking to my God’s right hand
When the stars begin to fall.

These Spirituals often have hidden meanings, and this one is no different.  It is said to represent a time when slaves would be emancipated and the trumpet would call all within the “underground” to challenge racism and segregation.  The metaphor of falling stars may have stood for the Union Army’s campfires as beacons of freedom.  These are hopeful words.  Words about rising up, but also the reality of the wait before the glorious morning arrives.  About the expected celebration when that morning finally arrives.

Maybe this is where we are right now.  Maybe we have something to learn from all of this.  Maybe we are being called by this excruciatingly loud event to challenge ourselves, our leaders, our world.  Maybe there are bright stars falling before our eyes that can teach us what we need to know, what we need to understand.  And maybe, we’re just not ready for our morning of celebration yet.

In the past week, much has been lost to each of us.  There are certainly those who will feel the impact much more than others.  And that’s an important fact.  There are those whose health will suffer.  Those whose financial situations are or will become grave.  Those who are stuck far away from their homes and families with few options.  Those who do not have enough to eat.  Those who are alone.  It is clear that we are starting to see these people.  And it is clear we are starting to respond.  Despite a few reports of price gauging and hoarding, generally I have witnessed kindness and generosity emerging.  People are raising money, delivering food, organizing support, sharing ideas, communicating however they can, taking people into their homes, trying to be conscious of others’ fears and loneliness.  We are starting to take the time to do these things.

The trumpet is sounding loudly.  When the whole world stops, we need each other.  We are being called to offer whatever we have to whomever needs it.  We are all in this together.  Whatever this is, whatever it becomes.

Are we disappointed by our losses?  Of course.  Do we wish for the chaos to end quickly?  Absolutely.  But a part of me can’t help think that what we have been given is a huge opportunity to re-evaluate what is important; to check ourselves.  To begin to understand how our impatience has so often impacted others.  To begin to really understand what forced waiting can feel like, and proceed in a spirit of generosity that will seek to eliminate the interminable waits we have imposed on those with whom we share this world.  Patience can teach us about others’ needs as much as it can about waiting to fulfill our own.  It gives us the time required to consider and process our neighbour’s view.

This time is a gift.  May we use it wisely.  May we be patient.  And may we see those stars falling with a brightness that fills that morning when it arrives.

And then, let us not forget what we’ve learned.