A Pandemic Observed
What Mourning My Husband and Son Taught Me about the Fear of Death
I’ve been trying to decide what to blog about this week. And then I read an article that blew me away. I decided my reader’s time would be better spent reading someone else’s words—the words of an Orthodox priest’s widow, L. Katherine Baker.
Katherine’s excellent piece in Medium, “A Pandemic Observed,” puts words to many thoughts and questions I’ve been having during the pandemic. It’s a long article, so here’s a paragraph that will hopefully make you want to read the rest.
Pandemic was actually very common throughout history and, through those times, the saints went right on fulfilling Christ’s commands to feed and clothe, care for, and love others. It’s very possible some disease was actually spread through the charitable acts of the saints, if it was God’s will. It’s not that those saints were too uneducated to know that this could happen, it’s that they made a conscious choice to care for others in a physical way in spite of the risks to themselves and even the risks to those they cared for. Why did they do this? Because the people around them who asked for their embodied love needed that embodied love more than they needed long lives free of suffering.
The Kirby Pines Creative Writing Group
A couple of people have asked me if I’m “being careful” when I lead a monthly in-person creative writing workshop at a senior living facility. Of course we are wearing masks, “social distancing,” and using hand sanitizer, but the more important question is “Why did they invite me into their ‘bubble’?” They are hungry for personal interaction during isolation, and for someone to distract them from their own anxiety and boredom while encouraging their creative gifts. I trust God to take care of them and me as I reach out to them. There are 18-20 in the group, ages 70-90s. I pray that what I share with them, and receive in return, is “embodied love.”
The “embodied love” that Katherine Baker wrote about it what I’ve been watching in the life of our pastor at St. John Orthodox Church, Father Philip Rogers. Even though he is “careful” to follow our archdiocese’s guidelines for social distancing and the limited number of parishioners in person at services, he is there, day after day, week after week, putting himself at risk. He has performed several funerals during the pandemic (none as a result of the virus) and this Saturday he will do numerous Chrismations and baptisms, as three new families come into our parish as members.
Of course he is being as “careful” as possible in each of these situations, but his faith that it is God who is at work in the holy sacraments and in our community is a reminder to all of us that God is not a God of fear but indeed of “embodied love.”