BEYOND GRIEF AND DEATH

The world map is marked with Covid cases
numbers try to express the endless sorrow and grief.
Daily updates speak of makeshift morgues and field hospitals
split ventilators and homemade protective shields.
Standing six feet apart at the post office
to send Easter baskets to the grandkids I can’t visit
there is an eerie silence behind bandannas and masks
fear of a deadly disease one person away.
In the early morning darkness, sleep often vanishes
and all the worries and doubts come flooding in.
Like Mary we weep outside the tomb of all our losses
the loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs
the loss of touch with family and friends
the loss of security and control.
But, like Mary, we lean into the tomb and look closely.
There amidst the emptiness we see angels.
Daily miracles of courage and compassion:
gowned and masked heroes work beyond fear and exhaustion
in hospitals and nursing homes and test centers.
Daily testimony to the human heart:
faithful grocery baggers and mail carriers and truckers
show up on the front lines of our essential services.
Daily bread multiplied by those who pack
breakfasts and lunches for kids
and serve those still seeking shelter to shelter in place.
Daily signs of connection and community:
teddy bears and butterflies in windows
hearts multiplied by small hands learning to care.
And when we listen closely we hear the holy one
speaking our name with comfort and challenge:
You are loved beyond grief, even beyond death.
You are called to be light, bright shining light in the darkness.

Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20