Care to “shelter-in-place”? The answer, of course, is “yes.”
The answer is “yes” – at least for the vast majority of us who aren’t deemed “essential workers”…or who aren’t foolishly (selfishly) daring the Coronavirus to take up residence in our lungs.
But then, we don’t have much choice in the matter, do we? Even if we wanted to shop…or eat out…or take in a game…or participate in Mass…or get a haircut – almost all of those familiar, everyday options have been put on hold, at least for the time being.
So our answer, necessarily, is “yes.” Sure thing. Why not?
“Now that you mention it, I think I’ll just shelter-in-place.”
Little by little, I’m getting used to the idea. And it helped me see the wisdom in the shutdown to read a story in the local paper today about the effectiveness of “flattening the curve” – not in 2020, but in 1918. Seems this shelter-in-place strategy actually has a bit of venerable history to it: St. Louis used the exact same strategy to combat a virulent flu epidemic 102 years ago…and it saved tens of thousands of lives.
Even an often-bombastic, self-involved blockhead like me can appreciate those kind of numbers – facts that prove the efficacy of an enforced quarantine in controlling a pandemic situation.
What I didn’t expect today, though, was the opportunity to notice the grace in this moment. The profound grace, contained in a rather humble word: a simple ‘yes.’
It’s Mary’s word, isn’t it?
We celebrate that moment today, on the feast of the Annunciation: Mary’s ‘yes,’ permitting the Word to take flesh and dwell among us. Salvation literally comes to us through her ‘yes.”
And here’s the remarkable thing about Mary’s ‘yes.’ It’s not an externally imposed acquiescence. She freely chooses to utter the word, even though she can’t begin to imagine its impact on the rest of her life – or its impact on our lives, for that matter.
There’s power in the ‘yes’ it seems. Power, in the embrace of a certain level of powerlessness.
And why is that? Because God respects Mary’s freedom. God awaits Mary’s response – and only after her ‘yes’ does Salvation come into the world.
So perhaps my ‘yes’ can play a similar role today. Perhaps God desires my cooperation – even in the form of a grudging, muttering, annoyed and sputtering ‘yes’ – in order to begin pouring out grace on a world in dire need of healing.
PS: And right along WITH my ‘yes’, I am moved to offer up a prayer of gratitude and protection for all those who are on the front lines of the battle against the virus. A prayer, too, for all who’ve already become ill…or who have died…and for all those who love them.
Marana tha — Come, Lord Jesus: Save us, Savior of the World, for by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free! Amen!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.