July 8, 2020
Search for God has been intense during these difficult times. Unfortunately, religious places including mosques, churches, and temples are still closed and so called ‘religious practices’ suddenly seemed opaque. We have opened our holy places with extra care. Gatherings in large number are strictly prohibited. Extra rituals are curtailed. And furthering these emotions, people of faith are experiencing a great suffering of their spirit through the ongoing inability to worship as a community. Getting through these testing times we require a lot of ‘spiritual innovation, where theology and religion has to be interpreted and communicated well.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us who we really are. We cannot afford to be fully independent. Our power, position, wealth cannot save us. It has also reminded us our human frailty. Moreover the pandemic has given us a greater awareness to exercise our faith in deeds. Every religion teaches us to reach out to the needy. Covid-19 has given us this opportunity to put our faith in right perspectives.
In these days of “social distancing,” or “physical distancing”, and quarantine, reaching out to encourage someone else is the best way to turn our faith into action. I have come across ample number of YouTube videos, short notes, cards, comments and certainly prayer services to boost our spiritual energy. It is a silver line in the thick clouds. I have noticed a number of people coming out of their homes to reach out to the hungry through food kits, and many religious and educational institutions are turned homes for the migrants. We have been emissaries of hope to the hopeless, reflecting the grace, mercy and love of God in the midst of troubled times. The Covid-19 has unmasked our selfishness and made us realize who really we are.
Now, we all have something to learn and carry with us through and beyond this experience. People of all ages have come to know better each other’s pain and sorrow. We have experienced the frustration that comes from being stuck in our homes. We have begun to appreciate each other. Moreover, we have realized that wealth cannot buy health. Our birthday celebrations have become meaningful. In our loneliness and isolation, we have come to know the deeper dimension of friends and neighbours.
Is it not true that through Covid-19 we have come to realize a deep sense of gratitude for those who are continuing to battle against this disease? Our hearts go out in praise to those doctors and nurses, hospital workers, who are putting their lives on the line to save others. And for all those who continue to leave their homes each day, endangering their own health, to keep us fed and sustained with life essential things. Importantly, farmers, delivery drivers, postal workers, truck drivers, food service and supply warehouse workers, all doing their part to help us endure and survive within our new isolated realities.
Finally, during the initial lockdown in India, migrants and the people at the margin were the worst affected citizens. Many modern city builders were bound to walk miles and miles to reach their homeland. Some even lost their lives as they reached their destination. What a pitiful situation it is! With this grim reality we are now aware that we need to be ready to face such a crisis not with technology alone but with our open hearts, where everyone has enough space to live, sufficient to eat and live in dignity. As the lockdown is gradually lifted and we face years of unprecedented economic crisis. We will witness a wide gap between the rich and the poor. We will have to keep aside all that hinders us from being who we really are, such as religious biases, political intrigues and most importantly laws which decide who should be the citizens of this country and not. Humanity is the only way forward.