Staying home and watching nature documentaries on Netflix. This week a situation a shrimp found itself in opened for me a window for contemplation. When the tide pulls out, it leaves behind rockpools where creatures are trapped unable to return to the ocean. In one was the unfortunate shrimp. As night progressed, oxygen began to run low. The desperate shrimp climbs out of its natural habitat onto the rock to breathe. It risked drying up and dying but the tide returned in time.
We are all trapped in little rockpools today. Covid-19 have deposited us into one. Like the unfortunate shrimp, we too find ourselves trapped in a very unnatural habitat. Some are running low on the oxygen for our livelihood: income, money. Others are choked by the carbon dioxide of worries. But nations have begun easing lockdown measures. The tide is coming back in, soon, to take us back out into the ocean of life. What learning will we take with us from this rockpool?
When the pandemic first came, it arrived like a tidal wave. Fear overcame us. We faced our mortality. The invisible virus showed us that every piece of possession and every strand of power was powerless against it. On a global scale, the tiny unseen threatened superpower nations. This enemy could not be nuked. Instead it needed small, individual but collective acts. Suddenly, we all became equally important as individual persons, made equal by the human life in us. The virus flattened the curve of power and possession. If anything, it restored my dignity as a person to know that what I do, or not do, counts in the equation of life.
When the tide come back in to take me out, I want to take with me this lesson of relationships. Every person shares a common relationship living in this world. We live in a spiritual ecosystem. We recognized that the best way to fight the virus is for humanity to be one and act in the interest of each other. Underlying this is the creed of our spiritual ecosystem, “Love one another”. It is a curious fact that governments and organizations shun away from this word “love”.
Without love, there can be no true relationships. Without love, relationships exist to be plundered, where we only take and not give. Without love, the spiritual ecosystem suffers. This pandemic has shown that humanity need this relationship for the order of life not to break down. We saw and heard of many heroic examples of people giving generously, some to the point of losing their life for the sake of the other. When we turn a blind eye to love, the common relationship among us breaks, gradually snuffing out the oxygen of life.
“The Lord is the living stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him; set yourselves close to him so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house.” (Second Reading)
When lockdowns are lifted, we will not immediately return to the same habitat as we knew it to be. Social cost will be high as we see that social distancing has perhaps been more lethal than the virus for some, especially the poorest and the marginalized.* There are many people out there, unemployed now, paying the high social bill of this fight. The faithful are the elected people full of the Holy Spirit appointed to give out food (First Reading). The faithful are called to be the living stones in the common relationship among people in this new equation of reality.
What we do as individuals may be small, but it counts. It is time to become the oxygen of life.
“I tell you most solemnly, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.” (Gospel)
*The unequal cost of social distancing.
5th Sunday of Easter