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So, I'm a week into "self-isolation" as I went to Cuba for March Break. That is … me, Karen and the two "girls," who are both university students. The trip was good—other than the occasional panic attack and some grumblies. We thought we knew what the future held, and it turns out we didn't. I don't just mean me and the rest of the Patersons. I mean us … all of us. On Facebook, someone mentioned to me that they thought it an environmental disaster was imminent, not a health crisis.
In my own lifetime, I've experienced a number of crises including 9/11, the Ice Storm of '98, and the bad old days of the Cold War. My dad talks about the Cuban missile crisis of the 1960s. Some of us remember WW2 and the Great Depression.
These are all events and experiences that changed the way we thought about things. I'm not saying one was worse than the other, only that in some ways we get things right, in other ways we get things wrong.
The thing that I have gleaned from a quarter-century of being a United Church minister and listening to the stories of those who went through generational changing events, is that the very simplest and most important of things made the difference in our lives: Faith and family.
Faith isn't the opposite of doubt, it's the opposite certainty. I think maybe we need more faith in this world, and less certainty. Faith in neighbours, faith in community, faith in small acts of kindness. Certainty tells us that we'll all be up and "rarin'" to go by Easter … not so sure about that.
And family. For some of us that means blood and DNA family. For others, well, family is more fluid. But really, it's about love and liking, and maybe even just putting up with each other. The Patersons have been doing just that for the past week of self isolation.
The lead singer for the Canadian Rock group Rush, Geddy Lee (Gary Lee Weinrib as his mother's accent makes Gary sound like "Geddy") has shared that his parents met in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. They were 13 and 14 years old at the time and they had no idea if they'd make it out of the camps alive. But after liberation, Geddy's father left Berlin to try and find his sweetheart and he did. And he brought her, and her mother, and some of their family to Canada.
The drive of love and family—faith that somehow we'll get through this and that we aren't alone in all in the midst of a crisis or disaster—is more powerful than any president's "promises" or the fear that stalks our streets.
Isaiah 49: 13 -16
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me."
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.