The Hebrew people suffered a catastrophe beyond their imagining.
They were overrun by the Babylonian army, their city obliterated, their temple – the very centre of their lives – torn to the ground, not a stone left on stone. And they were hauled off, as captives, to a land of strange customs and food and government.
On the way, their captors asked them to sing some of the songs of their people, the songs of their faith. But the Hebrew people hung up their harps and refused saying “how can we sing our songs in a strange land?”
How can we sing our hymns when everything is changed and they are just not relevant any more?
That is an important question.
My grandfather lived through the Great Depression and he told me often to always have a little bit of cash set aside for an emergency. Keep some cash at home, not in a bank, just in case you need it. So I have always heeded his advice and kept a little something hidden away in case of disaster, or conflict, or a pandemic. Well, in this crisis stores are asking that we NOT pay with cash. Cash carries germs. My little emergency stash is useless, irrelevant. How can I sing the songs of wisdom my grandfather taught me in this strange land?
I have been comforted by a newsletter I receive every day from Cameron Trimble. Today she wrote:
I want to ask you to consider that on the other side of this, a better world could be waiting for us. Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” The scale of this crisis invites us to tap into a new level of consciousness to engage it. We will be different on the other side. We are developing a new way of knowing the world, one rooted in deeper wisdom that helps us ask the questions of life that matter most.
Cameron’s advice is not new. The Hebrew people in exile moved into a new level of consciousness. Their faith life moved from being dependent upon the building that housed their cultural practice of worship to being dependent on each other. The centre of their faith became the home and the community. Everyday actions became sacred.
As we “shelter in place” or “self-isolate” or practice “social distancing”, let us find the sacred in the everyday practice of washing our hands. Let us experience God through the sacrifices we are making for our neighbours and families. Let us pray with every breath we take for those who are struggling to breathe.
Let us pray:
Loving God who travelled with your people into disaster and led them to a new level of consciousness, lead us now. Lay your gentle hand upon the sick and weary, your stern gaze upon the selfish deniers, your blessing upon those who continue to work amidst danger for the good of the world. Quiet our anxiety and bring us hope. We pray in the name of Jesus, the great Healer. Amen.