By Michael Sizemore
I’m not the first person to write about how things are bad right now. I am also not the first to talk about how maybe there is some good that can come from this time. Nonetheless, I want to share a couple thoughts I have.
Life is weird right now. Life is uncomfortable. Life is downright scary. Questions are everywhere—ones that I cannot answer. So much is out of our control.
Will the people I know and love who are at a higher risk get sick? I’m about to graduate, will I be able to get a job? And these are just a couple personal questions, not to mention the thousands of communal well-being questions that abound. Honestly, these are even more urgent and necessary to answer.
If anything, this time has shown me how privileged I am. These times hit those that are already hurting the hardest. When I consider this, everything that starts to feel dark.
The days have often been cloudy, but even when they haven’t been, they’ve felt like it. There is this weird shroud of uncertainty and pain over everything. This isn’t an article about how to lift that cloud right now or how to address community issues. We need to discuss and act on that, but I have realized that there a couple of rays of sunshine peeking through these clouds.
I saw an article talking about how Italy’s canals are now crystal clear, and dolphins are even coming to the edges of cities. It also mentioned various other countries that deer and monkeys are roaming the streets like these places are their home. I am sure there are more examples of the way nature seems to be changing, but these were astounding to me. This is in such a short period of time too. I have seen more people in the past week from my small apartment complex outside walking, cycling, or running than I have seen in the 6 months I’ve lived here.
All of this is showing me how backwards we live much our lives. It’s showing me how crappy we treat this planet we call home. It’s showing me how much of God we are missing by not realizing our relationship with creation.
I see how much work many (not all) people can do from home, saving an absurd amount of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere through commuting. I see how being home more can mean more space to create margin for sacred practices (this is of course the opposite for many people, especially those with children). I see how much I love cooking from fresh ingredients, not relying on over-processed meals. I see how even though I live in a cozy, one-bedroom apartment with a spouse that is also working from home, we do not need more space. Would it be nice? Of course, but it’s time I learned to live with less everything. I see how much going outside and getting some vitamin D can influence my mood. I see how this small period of disruption of our way of life has allowed for some of nature and creation to utterly flourish.
A dear friend of mine, Liz Britt, preached a few Sundays ago. The passage was about the transfiguration of Jesus and how dazzling white his clothes became. Right before this though, Jesus talks about his death and the cross. Liz talked about the deep contrast between darkness and light.
In the midst of this deep darkness, I think our transfiguration moment could be learning how to appreciate and care for the earth that sustains us. Learning to live in rhythm with it, instead of trying to force our ways of life on it.
None of this is to ignore the pain, sickness, death, and struggle across the world currently. We must address that. But what if we did that AND learned how to live in a healthier way with creation?
Michael Sizemore is a CBF Leadership Scholar and serves as the Graduate Assistant for Academic Advising at Campbell University. He is expected to graduate with a M.Div. from Campbell University Divinity School in North Carolina in May 2020.