What have we learned from the COVID-19 Crisis?
By Rev. Dr Paul Goh, Justice and CALD Multicultural and Cross-cultural Officer, Synod of South Australia
One single lesson that I rediscovered and learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is the interrelatedness of all things, from climate change to this coronavirus, and from cell to cosmos. Some scientists have explained compellingly how the destruction of habitat can create the perfect conditions for viruses like COVID-19 to emerge and spread to our global village resulting in the pandemic and a new ‘normal’.
Air pollution has intensified the pandemic, but the pandemic has, temporarily, cleaned the skies. Even before this pandemic, air pollution resulted in millions of deaths a year, but many refused to take the climate emergency seriously and our political leaders have been reluctant to respond urgently. But this coronavirus is telling us that our current ways of living are taking us on a fast road to a collective death.
Sounds apocalyptic? Another word for “apocalypse” is “revelation,” which literally means ‘unveiling of a fact that is made known’. We need to pause and wonder what a loving God might seek to reveal in the midst of this crisis.
Through this virus, God can make a wake up call (religiously speaking ‘an altar-call’) to all humans. Over time, we have disconnected our being from the earth, from a deep sense of connectivity with other people and other living beings, trees, rivers, plants, birds.
Creator God is calling us to what can be called an ecological conversion. We are connected with all of creation and we are called to pay attention and to change the ways we are living with them.
We are made of stardust, along with everything else in the universe. As humans, we are not masters nor owners of the creation, but we are called to care for God’s creation in the hope of Christ who is reconciling and renewing all creation, and we are each a new creation in Christ.
Our hope in the post-COVID-19 era is not that all things will return to what we perceived as ‘normal’, but that all things will be made new. And a new beginning requires a new vision and a new spirituality for the whole creation.
I suggest starting with new awareness of breathing. Be aware of the fact that our breath happens by itself, without any act of will. No decision to inhale or exhale is necessary to do this simple and life-sustaining act of breathing. It is almost as if we are being breathed, breathed by life—the Spirit – moving through us in every instant, in a grace-filled act of replenishing each of our cells with oxygen, every moment of our lives.
When our society would have us tighten up and cringe in fear, the Spirit breathes in and out through each of us, reminding us of our inherent belonging in the family of life, allowing us to reconnect with our Creator, and Creation as our family.
Australia has almost 400 mammal species and about 140 species of marsupials. These brother and sister beings, too, are being ‘breathed’ by life today. With them, we are embedded in a diverse web of life that is greater than human understanding.
Let us give thanks for this magnificent kinship of life that we have been given. Let us sing a new song with all birds. Let us hope for a new day when all things are made new and live together in love and peace. Let us humbly and gently walk on this sacred earth with all sisters and brothers of creation. Let us pray and work together for healing and renewal of all creation.
May all be well, blessed and flourish. Amen.