We sheltered in place through the remainder of March, and into April. By late April, the U.S. death toll had risen into the tens of thousdands. At the same time, small numbers of citizens in several states are chomping at the bit to be “liberated” from this home order, and have shown up at state capitals with their signs, flags, and long guns, demanding their freedom. And freedom they have, to gather and protest, and spread this pestilence in a second wave, by their own actions. We stare into the face of a dark and staggering tragedy.
Today, May 1st 2020, there are over 3.3 million test positive cases of this dread COVID-19 viral disease. It has swept the globe. Global deaths are astounding — approaching a quarter of a million souls lost, and still rising. Here in the United States, today’s count of the dead is 64,254.
In my home state of New Mexico yesterday, we counted eleven more deaths; seven of them from just one Life Care facility in Farmington. The heart breaks.
In the nation’s capital, our president (for disgust, I cannot bring myself to write his name; you know him by his works) continues to self delude and carry on his macabre TV Reality show, and has only now, we hope, relented from his shameful “updates” reporting what little news there is to tell on the federal front and it’s late and sorry response to the crisis. Not a day of these updates can pass without some new lie from his lips about how “anyone who wants a test can get a test,” or the potential effectiveness of “injecting disinfectant,” or the latest cure du jour that he touts as the best “wonderful, powerful, miracle,” like some zoot suit sideshow hawker at the carny pitching his amazing life-saving elixer.
Of all the responses we could have expected from the federal government under which our states are united – a rapid ramp-up of nationwide testing, with nationwide logistics, matching need with production and delivery — would have been an obvious job number one. And here in the most obvious duty, our leaders have failed us. There still is insufficient testing, even as the country contemplates its “reopening.”
The Church Alumni are all but finished with “thoughts and prayers,” and are seeking a deeper way to understand this horrific calamity. It’s as if Nature has turned on us and given humankind a public lashing. Spirit rises and falls within us, as we long for a touch, a hug, a close quiet conversation with a friend, a shared cry, even as we Zoom with our dear ones and carry on some semblance of work, those of us who still have work to do. Some kind of repentance is called for, from all the ways we have abused our earthly home, sucked its resources, hoarded its precious metals, and stripped the broadest river valleys of the green clothing that gives us our breath of life. It is a sorrowful mix of emotions with which we contemplate this ecological justice.
We cannot but be changed by this global disaster dealt upon our species. How can we not be humbled by the power of the Universe to speak this prophetic word to us: “You had a beautiful garden to keep and tend. It gave you everything needed to sustain you. It was a symbiotic harmony that you had no grace to apprehend. You slaughtered and ate your fellow creatures, laid bare and despoiled the land. The ultimate invasive species, you tread heavily and everywhere across this small gem of a planet. No creatures in the deepest sea or sky could escape your clutches. Though the sun still shines upon the Earth, you are brought low. Why should you be permitted to escape this heavenly cradle if you cannot turn from your dark ways? Life fights anew, always bursting forth from the tiniest forms. Why should humankind not fall from its brief time of glory on Earth as other beings arise to tend this beautiful garden that we have so abused? Repent, humankind, repent.”
How will we be changed? It is my hope that as we spend this lengthy time apart from one another we have an opportunity to discern wants from needs, and sincerely desire a kinder gentler way to carry human life forward on planet Earth. We need to grow up — a lot! — before we ever might become a star-faring species. We need to learn humility in our very bones.