That so many people die in hospice or nursing homes, away from everyone else, allows many of us to forget that death is part of life.
Our banishment of the elderly and dying allows us to pretend that we will not, in fact, die as its grim specter is longer in our faces. So, I think, that when something like COVID-19 comes along it is a terrible shock, a reminder that all that we have built up around us is temporary. And we do not like to be reminded of such things. We resist it. We cling to the hope that we will be saved from this temporary hiccup, this aberration by some miracle drug or treatment. We close down everything because we believe surely this is temporary. We can not even fathom continuing life in such a way.
But death is part of this whole thing. Pain too.
Our entire culture seems built around the idea that nobody should ever be in pain. All discomfort is an anomaly and that someone is at fault for it. So then the finger pointing starts. You! You who didn’t wear a mask, you did this to us! You went to a party! You went to Mass on Sunday! You did this to us. And this allows us to warm ourselves with hate. It seems to help. But that furnace grows cold quickly. It needs to be fed. Constantly.
Christians have always understood that the way of the cross is suffering. It doesn’t seek it out necessarily, but we tie our suffering to Christ’s suffering. And we do it with love in our hearts. I pray that we can all do so. The world needs us too.