In our isolation we miss hearing these words directly, in person. We have come to realize that even momentary, casual contacts – even that sidewalk “how are you?” or comment about the weather, once so commonplace, are now a frayed thread of connection.
Alas, though isolated we can still be subjected to daily reminders of the mis-use of language. Our world of electronic anonymity grants license to, even encourages, derision, angry outrage, falsehoods, cruelty. Cancelling, trolling, doxing, hostile memes. Add to this a charged political moment, and emotions and rhetoric run hot without the check of reflection or regard for truth and the sacred quality of words.
Now, and any time, great writing is a powerful consolation. Not just Scripture, but the truest poetry, fiction, drama, and personal reflections. Since spring I have rediscovered George Elliot’s Middlemarch, powerful essays of James Baldwin, and other sacred texts.
And we find consolation in letters and e-mails carrying words of concern and love, in hearing a beloved voice on the telephone or through our “devices,” and in memories of kind, wise words shared with family, friends and our “church family.” Soon, we hope we will be together again to greet each other with affection and spoken sacred words.
P.S. for those with time, a little sampling from Elliot and Baldwin:
From George Elliot’s heroine Dorothea:
“I have always been thinking of the different ways in which Christianity is taught, and whenever I find one way that makes it a wider blessing than any other, I cling to that as the truest – I mean that which takes in the most good of all kinds, and brings in the most people as sharers in it.”
From James Baldwin in essay “To Crush a Serpent”: “Salvation is as real, as mighty and as impersonal as the rain, and it is yet as private as the rain on one’s face. It is never accomplished; it is to be reaffirmed every day and every hour. There is absolutely no salvation without love: this is the wheel in the middle of the wheel. Salvation does not divide. Salvation connects, so that one sees oneself in others and others in oneself. It is not the exclusive property of any dogma, creed, or church. It keeps the channel open between oneself and however one wishes to name that which is greater than oneself. It has absolutely nothing to do with one’s fortunes or one’s circumstances in one’s passage through this world. It is a mighty fortress, even in the teeth of ruin or at the gates of death. It protects one from nothing except one thing; one will never curse God or man.”
By Sue Morrill