Calamity and Chaos–and COVID-19

With the pandemic,  volatile world markets, war raging in so many parts of the world and unspeakable things happening in so many places near and far it seems that the world as we knew it is coming apart. Calamity and chaos reign.

For all of us, the uncertainty, struggle and suffering is intolerable, and the thought of all this suffering having an instructive or redemptive purpose seems ridiculous. Yet, the long view of history shows us that great things often emerge from such muck. Think about the Dark Ages. Then think Renaissance. After years of pestilence, death and the suppression of the human spirit a resurgence of human enlightenment overtook the world in such a way that we enjoy it even today.

The U.S.A’s dominant salvation narrative,  the birth of the Christ Child- teaches a similar lesson. In the short view, Jesus’ birth was not much more than a calamity. An illegitimate child was born to a poor teenage mother and her aging husband-to-be, and had the misfortune to alienate the ruling monarch by virtue of the alignment of the stars at his birth, thereby making his family refugees almost as soon as he was born and causing a bloodbath of male babies in his homeland as the king hunted him down.

Simply put, Jesus did not have much of a chance within the existing order of the world when he was born. The existing order was simply too much for that influx of love. History proves the unlikely outcome.

Early in the lockdown in March of 2020, I noticed jets were missing from the early morning airspace in my yard. Traffic was very quiet. The sounds of birds filled that space. Despite the terrible news of neighbors’ death; the crabtree bloomed more heartily than ever.

Perhaps there are times when only calamity and chaos create sufficient room to hold the larger doses of hope and love necessary for the continuing evolution of our creation. I am a witness to the fact that in our own individual lives, there is every hope and possibility that some unimaginable transformation can emerge from destruction and chaos. This is the bittersweet nature of hope.