Nothing New Under the Sun

Spanish Flu 1918-1919; Emergency hospital set up in gym

I haven’t been writing on my blog for some time now. I just couldn’t bring myself to write one more snarky political opinion piece about the shit-show in Washington and the great divide. I do not delude myself into thinking that what I write will change a person’s mind. But now I feel something different in the atmosphere. Here I am on this precipice and I know it is time for me to be the change I desire. And I can do that by not allowing myself to wallow  in anger or disillusionment, but to look forward to the future, a time of transformation and healing and light for all of us. Not just for our country but for all humanity and all God’s creatures on this planet.

Sounds big and impossible doesn’t it?  So I will start with, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Not a new idea, actually over two thousand years old, a line from the Hebrew scriptures; Ecclesiastes 1:9.

I hear so many laments that 2020 is like no other time in the history of the world. Not True. In this country alone we have been torn apart by violence over political ideological differences many times. The Civil War being the most devastating, over 600 thousand  Americans died on both sides and from 1862-70 at least a million of the   four million freed slaves were displaced and homeless, many suffered and died from disease and starvation, never experiencing the benefit of being emancipated.

The 1960s also come to mind, especially 1968 with assassinations, riots, protests in the streets, a war that took over 2 million lives, (only 58,300 of which were American.)

Then of course the world has seen numerous pandemics or plagues, throughout history. The Black Death, as it was called in the middle ages, is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century.  More recently was the worldwide Spanish Flu Pandemic that spanned 1918-1919, infecting 500 million people worldwide, killing an estimated 50 million.  This virus was so deadly that in Oct 1918 alone, 195,000 Americans died. I remember my father saying things like “Every family lost people. No one was spared.”  Something I am sure he heard his parents say, since he was just a toddler during this time. I think about my grandparents on both sides, young couples starting their families when this horrid disease swept through their communities. I can imagine they prayed unceasingly that their children would be spared. I can see my Catholic Grandmother Maire, lighting candles in thanksgiving when the disease was spent, because her family was intact.

We recently watched a documentary on this pandemic and learned it was not like COVID19, which is more deadly for the elderly. This virus took young healthy adults in greater numbers than it did the elderly.

All this pondering on past suffering got me thinking about this current time in the history of the world. 2020 is barely a speck on the timeline of humanity and this pandemic will end or eventually slow down to a crawl and we will get on with our lives, never the same, but we will live and thrive again.

This political climate of polarized parties will also be healed and we will once again be civil and allow one another to have different opinions and our lawmakers will reach across the aisle once again. Compromises will be made on important issues and we will do what is good and right for this country.

But as we wait for this new era to dawn, I feel a connection to my ancestors, who lived through so much. They know how to survive and come through times of suffering, chaos and unrest. I believe in the Communion of Saints, and for me that means those who went before us are still here, connected to us, praying for and with us, encouraging and comforting us in our daily struggles. They are continually giving us wise counsel and pointing us to answers when we most need them. Here is a prayer written by Reverend Steven Charleston, that comforts me in these turbulent times. I hope it has meaning for you also.

Prayer to Our Ancestors
Speak and they will hear you for they are listening, they are always listening,
your ancestors, the angels of heaven.
They are listening.
Do not imagine that on no one cares or that what you face is too complex to explain, to hard to resolve;
For the combined wisdom of a thousand souls is waiting to hear you, to help you, to love you.
So speak, even if in whispers.
They will hear you as surely as if they were standing right beside you.
Tell them what is in your heart.
Speak your prayer and they will hear and they will come to your side, even if you never say a word.

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