“empathy” by glsim99 licensed under Creative Common
“Think of Others” by Mahmoud Darwish
As you prepare your breakfast, think of others (Don’t forget to feed the pigeons). As you conduct your wars, think of others (Don’t forget those who want peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others (Think of those who only have clouds to drink from).
As you go home, your own home, think of others (don’t forget those who live in tents).
As you sleep and count the planets, think of others (there are people who have no place to sleep).
As you liberate yourself with metaphors think of others (those who have lost their right to speak).
And as you think of distant others think of yourself and say “I wish I were a candle in the darkness.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” The Gospel of Matthew 22:39
It was an eerie experience to walk through a department store earlier this week to get a few school supplies for my children. Staples like toilet paper, bread and cleaning supplies were all gone. The few folks in the store kept their distance. There was no conversation. I hate to say if felt a little like a zombie movie, but…
I admit that through this, I’ve struggled to pull together a faithful reflection on the current state of affairs. News of the Coronavirus pandemic is ever changing and announcements and new recommendations seem to be coming down to us hourly. How do we begin thinking about something this global, scary, and impersonal? Further, how might we begin to act in faithful ways when recommendations are constantly changing? An added wrinkle to our new reality is the many different types of experiences folks are having and will have as the days progress.
For some, this is an adventure. The family is together, work is being done from home, and despite the circumstances, there are signs of optimism. It’s a great time to catch up on that outstanding project or some reading. Folks are learning new technologies, looking for volunteer opportunities and adapting to the changes as they come.
Other will find this to be a fearful time. COVID-19 is a dangerous disease and many in our community fall into the “vulnerable populations” category. Given the preventative measures recommended by the CDC and the Vermont Department of Health about social distancing and self-isolation, it can feel as if the world we know has come to a crashing halt.
Finally, there are some that are and will be deeply affected by life as it is. Folks in the service industry are now out of work. Children who rely on public schools to provide normalcy, nutrition and positive social interactions now have a large void in their lives. Bills continue, even if work stops, and work for some must continue even when the kids are at home.
Our experiences are not the only experiences. Being mindful of the reality of others is a step toward empathy and another step toward loving our neighbors as ourselves. So, during this time, take care of one another, reaching out to your neighbors by phone, email and video conferencing. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance and be generous in what you have.