Hope & Community in the Time of Coronavirus
BY RACHEL DROTAR | March 12, 2020
Editor’s Note: This reflection was originally scheduled to be published on Saturday, March 28, 2020, part of ISN’s daily Lenten reflection series Radical Hope: Lent 2020. In light of the growing global impact of coronavirus / COVID-19, we have chosen to publish this reflection now to guide our communal processing of this reality. The daily lectionary readings framing this reflection can be found here.
Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance. Luke 8:15
The coronavirus has flooded every medium through which I consume information.
Facebook. Email. Casual conversations with friends and family. Even this reflection! It has been difficult to get it out of my head, especially as Ohio has released recommendations to increase protections against the virus. It seemed like the increase in protective measures has been mirrored in my own worry.
I see parallels in the response the world has taken to that of climate change: the severity of impact differs depending on who is most vulnerable.
From climate change to racism to economic injustice to epidemic—the severity is exacerbated for those with chronic illness and/or disability, who are advanced in age, who can’t take off work if they are sick or if they are the primary caregiver.
How do we stay hopeful in times of escalating worry?
To push through, hope-filled, has been a particular challenge. As a person who is directly impacted as one or more of those vulnerable groups, I find myself so focused on being careful. If you or a loved one has experienced long-term illness, you know the cycle of powerlessness, vulnerability, and surrender that accompanies it. One thing I have learned is that there is a sure-fire way to yield a harvest of hopefulness: Community.
While prevention is a good (and necessary and important) measure, it is from a place of lack—Don’t go to the parade. Cancel the seminar. Avoid huge crowds.
Instead, consider: The antidote lies in love—the one thing that is proven to beget itself, the one thing that is born from a place of abundance. Living a Gospel life means reflecting on what pulls us through. Perseverance feels so much more possible for me in community. In my community, those gentle and responsive friends, I take my refuge.
As I am inundated with the news, I offer gratitude: Blessed is the friend who listens to where I am in all of this. Blessed is the community member who suggests ways of spending time outside of a public event. Blessed is the neighbor who held space for my worry and provided solace.
In the last week, how have you offered refuge to the most vulnerable, those in need, or those who live in worry? What gratitude can you offer for the love and hopefulness born of community?
Rachel Drotar serves as the Generative Spirit program coordinator at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland. A graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Rachel works with Catholic sisters from congregations in Northeast Ohio and has been deeply impacted by their joy, innovation, and radical compassion. Rachel enjoys discussing the changing landscape of Cleveland neighborhoods, reading poetry aloud, and supporting live community theatre.
Life is a precious gift. Come what may, we need to honor, thank and praise the Giver of Life.