“Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight. Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.” Psalm 39:4-5 (NRSV)
It’s always true, but sometimes we are more aware of it than others. Life is fragile. Life is fleeting. Death is certain and comes whether we are ready or not.
Since at least March, all of us have had to think about the coronavirus pandemic—if for no other reason than to decide what to do, where to go (if anywhere), what not to do, etc. Numerous plans have been put aside, anticipated special events postponed. People we know and people we don’t know have been infected; some have died. We grieve.
Several times over the last few months, I’ve been painfully reminded that people are facing other health challenges that may have been overshadowed by our fear of the virus. People are still being diagnosed with cancer, receiving treatment for potentially terminal illnesses, having heart attacks or strokes, or falling down and being injured. People we know are dying of a myriad of illnesses, not just COVID-19. Suffering on all sides is often increased by the inability of loved ones to be together, even to say goodbye. We grieve.
The lessons for me are two-fold. There are people who need our care. Providing care may be more difficult because of the necessity to remain at home, or to wear masks and socially distance ourselves from others when we go out, but it is no less important. We are called to take care of those in need, to be aware of and reach out to them in word and deed, with love and prayers.
We also need to take care of ourselves. We are called to cherish this time—however difficult it may seem—because it is the time we have. We cannot wait until the pandemic is over to find the joy in each day or to express gratitude to a loved one. Life is fragile and fleeting. We are invited to behold its beauty and savor its goodness now.
Many of us use “take care” as part of our signature at the end of written communication. So, I say to you, take care!
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
For all who are facing serious health challenges:
God of all, Hear our prayer for ourselves and for others. Where there is illness or injury of any kind, bestow your healing power. Where death and grief mingle, grant the comfort of your peace. We lift to you the names of those whose needs for healing and comfort we know and those we do not know. Make us ministers of your love and care in all that we do. Amen.
Orchid photograph by Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing. Taken in February 2019 at Naples Botanical Garden.