“Are you surviving?” came the question to me when I answered my phone.
And then, before I was able to respond, “are you and yours well?”
And again, with no time to answer, the caller said, “it’s crazy, isn’t it? Listen I have a question for you…”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, almost every conversation I have includes some reference to the current pandemic. Every person on the planet, it seems, is being impacted by this crisis. For some, it represents an inconvenient impediment to their normal lifestyle, while for others, it is literally life or death.
Almost from its onset, I have experienced a tension between grief and gratitude. This pandemic has brought so much suffering to our world. And this suffering, as many have pointed out, is different in that it is ongoing rather than a one-time, cataclysmic event.
And in the face of this suffering, I have encountered incredible acts of kindness and generosity. Richard Rohr often talks about this tension between tragedy and transformation. Along that same line of thinking, Steve Mullaney, Director of University Episcopal Community, reminded me of the Stockdale Paradox from author Jim Collins, based on Rear Admiral James Stockdale’s experience of being a prisoner of war. Steve’s succinct summarization of the Stockdale Paradox: “The storm is brutal and the storm will pass.”
The tension between grief and gratitude, tragedy and transformation, the brutal storm and the storm’s inevitable end, are at the core of our sacred story in salvation history.
It is the journey we have just walked through in Holy Week, culminating in the ultimate tension of the cross and the empty tomb.
And yet, as followers of the Way of Jesus, what always gives us strength for the tension and the journey is the knowledge that the light has overcome the darkness, and the hope of new life continues to beckon us forward.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed!