Faces on Faith: Hope has not been canceled
“Hope has not been cancelled,” read the sign along the roadside. It seemed a bright note in the midst of what often seems to be a sea of bad news. I also ran across a series of brief articles by the Associated Press News called “Lives Lost,” stories of noteworthy (not famous) people who have lost their lives to COVID-19. The stories, collected by AP reporters, were quite moving, documenting love, courage, kindness and generosity. It was a powerful reminder of the cost this virus inflicting on us.
This excerpt from John Donne’s Meditation XVII is widely known. “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” It serves to remind us that, even if death from the virus has not touched our family or friends, we are still diminished by the deaths around us. And so it is right for us to mourn, even if don’t know anything about the people for whom we mourn.
But as my thoughts moved on, I began to wonder, as touching as the AP series is, where are the stories of those who cannot shelter in safety because they serve in capacities that meet our needs. Where are the stories of those who sacrifice comfort and convenience to provide help to family, friends and neighbors? And where are the stories of people who joy and happiness to those around them in the midst of all the uncertainty?
What is it that prompts some people to be concerned about the people around them, and to care for those people in many different ways? Well, one reason, I believe, is that they have heard and accepted what Jesus said the night before his death, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” And their stories of serving others verify their love. Jesus also said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Being at peace, having calm hearts and setting aside fear are a tall order for times like these, but there is Jesus’ promise for everyone who turns to him in faith.
The Rev. Alan Kelmereit is the assisting rector at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.