One of my first responses to the self-isolation and “shelter at home” of the COVID-19 crisis came as a simple image—a blindfold.
The image grew to a blindfolded figure, unable to see, stretching a hand into the darkness to tenuously feel their way forward. It’s not actually dark—as an outside observer, we can see the figure perfectly well—but crippled by the blindfold, the person has no way to see, understand or respond to whatever threats (real or imagined), or helps, might be right in front of them.
One threat we face, in addition to the virus itself, is the complete loss of our sense of being able to see into the future. We are cut off from our physical world, “locked down” in our homes. Social distancing cuts us off from physical contact with our family, friends and associates. Masks block our ability to sense emotions. Global uncertainty cuts us off from our travel schedules and plans for the future.
So, we sit in our homes and fumble our way forward. We reach out over the Internet and try to stay virtually connected with the people who matter to us. We set up a space in our spare bedroom and call it “going to work.” We go outside and cut the grass (again) or fix the flower beds. We feel around ahead of us, on our hands and knees, trying to keep a safe six-foot space between us, hoping we don’t trip over something or fall into a pit.
We’re all crawling around with blindfolds on. Perhaps the best thing we can do is simply recognize where we are, giving space for the frustration, pain, and loss, to recognize that the situation stinks, for others perhaps even more than for ourselves.
And then, perhaps, we will have the space in our thoughts and imagination to remember that we are dust. Our anchor is not in our ability to wrestle the universe into submission, and our identity is not in the things we have accomplished or acquired. Perhaps, we will find a level of peace with ourselves and our situation, based on the sure hope for God’s presence in a future which we still cannot see.