For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NRSV)
I lived in the Buffalo area for 33 years. Yes, there was lots of snow and cold. I learned firsthand the meaning of “wind chill factor.” The temperature might be 20 degrees, but because of strong winds, it might feel like 5 above or even 5 degrees below zero. How it felt to be outdoors was more dependent on the wind chill factor than the temperature.
Now I have lived in Naples for four years. Yes, it is hot and humid, especially during the summer rainy season. I have learned the meaning of “heat index.” We have a home weather station that displays the indoor temperature, the outdoor temperature, the humidity, and the heat index. In recent weeks, we have frequently seen outdoor temperatures in the low to mid-90s with heat indices well above 100 degrees. How it feels to be outdoors depends a great deal on the heat index.
What the wind chill factor and the heat index have in common is that they are indicators of how much added factors like wind and humidity intensify outdoor conditions. I have come to view the pandemic in analogous terms. The realities of living through this pandemic, including physical isolation, loss of our usual patterns of work and social interaction, fear of COVID-19, economic crises, and grief of many kinds—to name just a few factors—all intensify our daily experience. To put it in personal terms, I feel more irritable with others, more anxious about the future, and more depressed by the disruptions in my life than I might otherwise because everything is so greatly affected by the wind chill/heat index (take your pick) of the pandemic.
When I look to faith and the testimony of our sacred texts to get me through, Paul’s words to the Romans speak to my mind and heart. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation”—and here I would add, nor a pandemic and all of its myriad effects—”will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Thanks be to God for the everlasting love revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
Prayer Focus: Perspective
God of All, When I am caught up in my own feelings of anxiety or despair, turn my attention away from myself to others. Remind me of those at much greater risk. Hear my prayer for those who are ill with COVID-19, for those still dealing with its after-effects, for first responders and health care workers treating patients, for those who cannot visit loved ones, for those mourning the death of loved ones, for those whose jobs require constant interaction with large numbers of people, and for those who have lost their jobs. I pray that I may be an instrument of your everlasting love whenever I can and wherever I am. Amen.
Photo credit: Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing