Things fall apart / the center cannot hold...
- William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"
Dramatic, yes. But Yeats' poem describes how I think many of us are feeling right now.
As G.K. Chesterton would say, the world wobbles. And boy, does it feel wobbly at the moment, with the coronavirus pandemic putting its microbial fist right through the fragile fabric of our normalcy.
But was everything really that stable a few months ago, when we'd never heard of coronavirus? Last semester, were we in control of everything, never in doubt? Of course
not. It's just that now our lack of control is more obvious.
What comes to mind is an excellent Lewis quote from an essay he wrote about living in the atomic age. Replacing "atomic bomb" with "coronavirus," it is quite applicable.
“How are we to live in an atomic age?” Lewis asks. “I am tempted to reply: 'Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living...do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Death itself [is] not a chance at all, but a certainty...If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music...not huddled together like frightened sheep."
The short version: keep calm and carry on. Live life as a confident Christian.
But how will we do this? God's not asking us to muscle through this on our own, to begin making new plans and schedules to put our trust in.
We don't know how bad this virus will get, or how this school year will end, or even what tomorrow will look like. But in all this chaos, I think God is giving us a terrifying and needed chance to let go of all those other things we trust in.
I think He's stretching our faith so that we can say to Him as the Psalmist did:
“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand...” (Ps. 31:14-15, NKJV).
I'm going to miss seeing so many of you. I'm going to miss just sitting in classes, and talking to professors, and the rhythm of life I've been used to.
But, I wonder, when (by God's grace) we all come back, will we be different, better, more fit to live in a broken world? Will we be Christians who live more and more like
Christ is our life?
I don't intend to waste this chance to reevaluate, to learn again the ever-needed lesson that the One who set the world spinning has not let it go. I hope you won't either. For our only hope has always been in His care, and there's no safer place to be.
An Editor's Note, originally published in The Herald March 13, 2020.