I have spent the morning trying to find a suitable inspirational quote for Sunday, and I’m struggling. None of them are what I want to read to this morning, now that the virus has spread to more people in Ketchikan, which seems awfully close, and so why would you? Although, I grabbed onto something that feels like a life preserver in an essay on empathy by Dan Rather that I want to share. He tells the story about a poor family in his already poor neighborhood that was struggling more than the rest of them, and how his parents gave their children Christmas presents, which meant less for them, and this irritated young Dan. His mother asked him why he thought she was helping the parents that didn’t have it as together they did, and Dan answered that it was because she felt sorry for them. No, she said. It is because I understand how they feel.
Here is something else to think about it: My friend Beth and I were walking on the beach –like ten feet apart with the wind blowing and the tide flowing– and she asked what image would make me happy on my death bed. “What kind of question is that? Now?” I said and she laughed that it has nothing to do with the virus. “Right,” I said. “Sure.” Of course the answer for both of us was the people and pets we love that are closest to us, happy and safe— and hydrating and with plenty of hand sanitizer– then she said what about when you actually die, and there are, say, spirits all around you, who would you want to see? The answer was the same. The people I love. Except of course they wouldn’t need water bottles or Purell and I’m thinking more about my mother, or friends that died too young. But let’s not talk about that right now. The point is love is always there.
I am leaning on the advice of Jesus today. He said that we must love God with our whole heart and then our neighbor the same way we do ourselves. I know not all of you believe in God, but I do, but I have a lot questions about him or her and what’s happening right now, still it helps that I also believe that God is love, and so where love is, God is. There’s a lotta love right now. Perhaps that is a comfort? It is to me. Luckily the loving your neighbor part is easier to do than it’s ever been, especially when it comes to the difficult ones. All you have to do is stay away from them and wash your hands a lot.
Speaking of staying away from your neighbors, and loving yourself as you love them, I think that goes for the virtual neighbors as well. My two new commandments for this week, or at least today if I can, will be: “Thou shalt not check thy news feed first thing in the morning or last thing at night “ and “ Thou shalt go outside and take a walk without your phone.”