Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ill Winds and Glimpses of Good

As someone who has offered end-of-life spiritual care and presided at hundreds of funeral and memorial services through the decades I'm trying to imagine the sorrow of families unable to be with dying loved ones and prohibited from gathering to grieve and affirm eternal hope because of  COVID-19. 

The countries with the greatest death tolls are China and Italy with thousands of losses in each country. It has led to massive shutdowns of everyday life in those countries, along with a number of others, with citizens being required by law to isolate themselves.

There is an old expression, "it's an ill wind which blows no good" which figuratively and literally applies in these grim times. Scientists have noted the significant drop in the lethal levels of air pollution which is another form of plague in China because industries have been shut down. The estimate is that 77,000 lives were spared by the reduction in toxins in the air. 

Meanwhile, in Italy, the cessation of everyday activity has offered similar, if less dramatic results. The city of Venice is crisscrossed with canals which are pertually murky. Since the shutdown the water has cleared dramatically and schools of fish are visible for the first time in living memory. 


Fish in the canals of Venice

No one wants this deadly virus to spread and we'll pray for a speedy resumption of activity. Wouldn't it be wonderful if among the lessons learned there would be a pandemic of resolve to care for Creation? We can't seem to get our collective heads around the urgency of the climate crisis. Perhaps some glimpses of what can happen for good when we alter our ways may make a difference to our outlook and action. 

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