“Why is Coronavirus ruining my life?”
My eight year old put it very succinctly.
I could have told him about why we’re staying home, or how stuff just happens sometimes, or that how we can learn to be here together a little better.
But I didn’t.
For better or for worse, I let his question float in the air. I didn’t want to give a pat answer and the moment seemed to be more about his wish not to do chores than to discuss philosophy or theology or even the science of why. It seemed to be more about the expressing feeling than understanding anything. And really why not let the question float unanswered? We’re all kind of wondering why? What is the purpose of this?
We can’t cheapen or minimize the gravity of this coronavirus isolation or quarantine by pretending it’s happening so we can learn a new skill, refocus our family lives, or learn to be better humans. We could have done all of that anyway. It shouldn’t take a global catastrophe for us to learn to make changes in our lives so let’s not pretend that’s a good enough reason for all this to happen.
It’s good to make those changes. It’s good to learn. It’s good to grow. It’s good for us to glean good from our circumstances, but, when it comes down to it, it’s ok not to know why and it’s good to decenter our lighter experience of this pandemic and intentionally cup the true devastation of so many people in our hands as we consider all that this is coming to mean or trying to teach or showing us about God.
It’s ok to feel the incoherency in what’s happening.
It’s ok to let there be no why right now.
There is grief of not-knowing.
Ground it all in the things you do know.
We can be here with our families in our houses. We can give grace to ourselves, our people, and everyone else. We can do that small next right thing in love. We can listen for the quiet story God is telling, leading, teaching us through.
But we can also resist ascribing meaning, or learning, or purpose beyond each small next right moment.
We can stand in lament with the devastated.
We can listen to the suffering without trying to repair or heal without permission.
We can avoid trying to ease our mind by giving reasons for a pandemic that has no reason. It’s not here to make us better people. It’s not here to cleanse the earth. It’s not here to make political change.
We can be ok with letting the why be bigger than we can understand. And maybe is no why.
But this is still true: God is still everything he ever was, ever will be, and is now.
We can sit in the space between here and there where there is now why and might not ever be.
God is here. You are here. Your people are here.
This needs done. That needs done. We need to do this.
We can look for the good.
We can look to do good.
We can feel all our feelings.
We can gently hold the feelings of others without pat answers or explanations.
We can be right here – where it makes less sense, is less straightforward, and is emotionally fraught – without having one big why.
It’s ok not to know.
PS – Just today – click the photo if this sounds like something you need!