Yay! I just passed “muster.” That is to say, I just got a good report on one of our frequent physical check-ups. Well, I probably do not need to explain that we residents of my assisted living establishment are receiving extra physical exams and extra scrutiny due to all this occurrence of the coronavirus.
Now, I don’t take this lightly, because I realize the disease is a serious matter, but I just want to add some soothing words for today’s meditation, if that is at all possible. I am 92 years old and have seen many crises come and go.
As I have probably said before, I remember when my first child was an infant, polio, often called infantile paralysis, was all the scare. I was seized with fear for my baby. The vaccine had not been discovered as yet. Our next-door neighbor had just been diagnosed with the crippling disease and was seriously ill with it. I was afraid to let my little toddler be outside the house.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945, and though he kept it under cover as much as possible, he used a wheelchair due to the effects of polio. One of his most notable, or should I say “quotable” remarks, was, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In a way, he was right, for the disease seemed to slow down until the science wizards of the day were able to develop a vaccine for it. For years I carried a scar on my upper thigh from that vaccination.
My mother’s generation feared smallpox and it was still a threat when I was a child, but the science world came up with that vaccination and today it is an almost-forgotten disease. We do hear now and then of an isolated case.
So now, today, the fear of COVID-19 has the world in its grip. We, the public, get regular warnings and messages from the higher-ups that every effort is being made to quell this deadly virus. We are experiencing a societal upheaval of fear, and don’t get me wrong, it is frightening, scary as can be. I shudder in my tracks, not for myself, but for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and those of society at large. The epidemic is world-wide and we feel so helpless. Scientists the world over are scrambling to find a cure, an antidote, something to curb this terrible threat.
Isn’t it too bad that it takes fear and disaster to bring people to work together? Maybe that is why the Creator allows storms and chaos, accidents, disappointments and deadly diseases. If life were always rosy and pink, would it have as much meaning to us? Maybe we have to learn what real pain is to fully appreciate life’s value.
It took a Revolutionary War to achieve independence and a Civil War to abolish slavery. It often takes our inward battles to learn that love and kindness make for inner peace and contentment, way above anger and cruelty.
Have you seen that TV commercial where a young mother holds her tiny infant to her breast and her baby sleeps nested warmly in her arms, the same little guy who had just come squalling into the great wide world? From the struggle of birth to the contentment of bonding.
Yes, there will be battles. Maybe that is how the Creator meant for us to determine what is worth fighting for. We are currently in the midst of a universal war against this virus, but just count on it, we will win this war, too. And we’ll learn more profoundly, through watching and participating in the concerted effort to abolish this threat, that God is love and we who dwell in love, dwell in God and He in us.
Harriett Gustason can be reached at 815-235-3855.