Rather than finding things to do — replacing activity with activity — my urging is to invest some of this new ‘free’ time into ‘not doing.’
When imagining what 2020 might be like, being caught up in a pandemic that is slowing the world down is not a circumstance that made my list of possible events. Unusual times. Scary reality.
We are living in imposed circumstances. We did not choose COVID-19; it’s happening to us. If we work hard and use safe practices we can blunt it, but we can’t unchoose it. A memorable Murphy’s law said it this way, “A crisis is when you can’t say, ‘Let’s forget the whole thing.’” Murphy would have us know that we’re squarely in a crisis.
“In that stillness, God will come to you. And when God does, then you’ll know that God’s got this and God’s got you.”
The Chinese word for “crisis” is composed of two characters: danger and opportunity. Regarding COVID-19, I don’t need to comment on the current danger — you’re aware and you’re doing your part. Keep doing that and we’ll come through this OK.
What, then, is our opportunity? What might we make of these imposed circumstances? I’ve already seen lots of good to-do lists. (Google, “what to do when stuck at home,” and you’ll get about 500 million results.)
Rather than finding things to do — replacing activity with activity — my urging is to invest some of this new “free” time into “not doing.” It may not have been so long ago that the to-do’s and the have-to’s dominated your calendar. Life was spent darting from thing to thing — good things that they were, but all going by so fast. Do you remember saying, “If I just had more time … ?”
Psalm 46 begins with hope even while enemy armies threatened war against Israel:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
In this passage, even with war on the horizon, the Psalmist concludes by saying, “Be still and know that I am God.”
With chaos at the door, the Psalmist’s call is to “be still.” In the stillness, God is known. It seems that the God of all creation feels no need to compete with our busyness. God doesn’t elbow a pathway through clutter to get to us.
So, what now? Really breathe. Let your mind wander. Be quietly curious. Look at the sky. Silence the noise in your heart. Create space in your soul. Be. Still.
Yes, these are trying times. And yes, it’s likely to get harder. As it does, “Be still.” In that stillness, God will come to you. And when God does, then you’ll know that God’s got this and God’s got you.
The Rev. Ronald C. Oliver, Ph.D., BCC, is Norton Healthcare’s system vice president for mission and outreach.