One of the anthems that Bryan LeGrow introduced to the choir last year ran through my head this morning. Called “Patience,” it uses words by the 20th Century -German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and music by the United Church’s own Linnea Good.
As we come close the end of the sixth week of a suspension of in-person gatherings at Mill Woods United, its lyrics might have something to teach me . . .
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
As this period of physical distancing moves into its seventh week, my patience is being tried. I am impatient (and sad and horrified) that poor working conditions in long-term care facilities and meat packing plants in High River and Brooks have kept the number of infections and deaths higher than would otherwise have been the case.
I am impatient that, although some homeless people have been housed in a hotel in Northlands, there are still homeless people evident on the streets of Edmonton and most other Canadian cities. If we can’t house the homeless when the health of everyone is so clearly tied to the well-being of those who are most vulnerable, then when will this ever be the case?
I am impatient to read yet another article about the plunge in oil consumption in the “Edmonton Journal” this morning that doesn’t mention climate disaster. Are financial reporters hermetically sealed off from the rest of the newspaper? If they can write about the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, why can they also not write about the effects of climate disaster on the economy (or on the futures of our children and grandchildren)?
On the other hand, I am encouraged that the devastation of the new coronavirus has been less than some models had suggested. I am heartened to have met via Zoom this morning with the phone tree made up of 14 people at Mill Woods United and to gain a more vivid sense of the ties that bind us together, many of which are being strengthened during the pandemic. I am pleased that so much is being learned by researchers about the new coronavirus.
Patience is a virtue, and unfortunately mine sometimes threatens to run out. But solidarity, truth, sustainability, and compassion are also virtues; and patience can seem to run counter to these others.
My prayer for myself today is that I live into the virtue of patience during these weeks of quarantine even as I don’t forget about the other virtues that guide us closer to God’s realm of Love.
I hope to “see” many of you on Sunday morning via Facebook Live at 10:30 am and then chat via Zoom afterward.