“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Many are familiar with this wise observation from the “Teacher” at the beginning of Ecclesiastes 3. The Byrds’ rendition of Pete Seeger’s composition “Turn, Turn, Turn” immortalized Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 8 for classic rock fans. Most of the time, we can predict the rhythmic periods between our bookends of mortality, life and death. Many of our seasons key to aging related consequences which we expect. We can even plan on adjusting our respective levels of activity accordingly as we transition to new stages of life.
What about unexpected, seemingly arbitrary, and harmful times, such as a terminal illness diagnosis out of the blue for us or a loved one? While potentially part of being human, we all hope to avoid such experiences and the associated pain and possible shortening of life.
In 2020, everyone entered a completely unexpected and worldwide pandemic season that is loaded with uncertainty and fear, as well as health and economic consequences. Further, the longevity of impacts and the timing and degree of steps back toward normalcy are debatable among political decision-makers as well as more informed and cautious medical experts.
How should we personally respond? Inevitably, we naturally hope for a swift end to the extensive, ongoing pandemic threats and realities. Nevertheless, we should not wish away any part of our lives, lose our focus on each day, or miss opportunities to live meaningfully. We can’t control the pandemic or its longevity, but we can control our response to it. Our first hurdle is acceptance of strange and challenging new circumstances in our lives that necessitate adaptation and change. We can long for evaporation of the pandemic but not postpone living in the interim.
As in all seasons of life, we should find ways of helping others who are in need. Further, we can affirm and support people in the front lines of danger, including those with the virus, health care workers caring for and comforting the victims, and skilled medical researchers working to mitigate the virus.
During this cabin fever time for many of us, we can utilize creative as well as time honored ways to reach out to others, including simply checking on them, helping with needs such as providing food, and finding other ways to practically show that we care. From online meetings to old fashioned letters and phone calls, we can excel in the art of love by staying connected. When this wicked, world-wide season passes, we can carry all of the innovative ways we find to care for each other into the next period of life.