Crises act as a kind of X-Ray for the soul
Crises act as a kind of X-Ray for the soul. That is they cut through our protective coverings to reveal what’s on the inside. In a crisis both character and flaws are revealed, we become exposed to our core.
A seminary professor once taught us a couple things about crises. First, is that crises don’t last forever and second, we never come out of them the same as we were.
We now find ourselves in a crisis for our time and our generation, a crisis that will be remembered for generations. It has a reach that touches home and doesn’t yield to changing the station or flying away. This crisis reveals our fears and challenges our resilience.
In many of our traditions celebrated this time of year, we encounter stories of people caught in deep crisis. Some enslaved, some in exile, some under the iron fist of foreign regimes. Life was capricious, short and tragic. These stories may feel time worn, yet when read in times of plague and pestilence, they come alive in new ways. We find that the X-Ray-of-crisis gave rise to a solid core of faith among our ancient poets and prophets.
Our ancestors relate stories of survival, recovery and liberation, not as foregone conclusions, but in a process involving a mixture of faith, hope and love. With courage they faced their mortality and found strength in the deep recesses of their souls, in their shared history and in sacred promises handed down from generation to generation.
The X-Ray-like nature of this virus may reveal some parts of us that are troublesome and disturbing, e.g. a deep seated anxiety, a preoccupation with meaning, a tendency towards depression. Yet as we see ourselves more clearly it can also become a time to claim our heritage of hope. The ancient stories are there for us. Read at this critical time they help us: identify with Abraham who journeyed without a destination; Joseph who interpreted royal dreams from prison and forgave his jealous brothers, or St. Peter who began to see the interconnection of a universal human community.
We will come out on the other side, but we will be different. If we can find faith, practice love and indulge in the hope of the ages, we may find our cores strengthened, our bonds of humanity refreshed and the world a more humane place to live.