Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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When I was young, my Dad would say to me: "Man proposes and God disposes." I did not understand what that meant. Much later, as an adult, I read David Richo's book, "The Five Things We Cannot Change." One of those five is that life does not always go according to plan. John Lennon reminded me in his music that "life is what happens while you are making other plans."
So, what does all this mean? It means that things happen that we don't expect. It means that we can not always prepare for the future. It means that we sometimes are going to be disappointed, sad, overwhelmed, confused and resentful.
These months of serious illness, isolation and unpredictability challenge our hearts and minds. We don't know what is going to happen. We try to make sense of so many people ill and dying. Why now? Why there? Why here?
Some people believe that God is in charge, and this plague is serving some Divine purpose. Maybe it is a wake-up call to see the Oneness of all. Others believe that we are being punished for something we did as human beings. For still others, it is a reminder of the fragility of life.
I am reminded of the Passover story, where God sent ten plagues to the Egyptians because they enslaved the Jews and would not let them go. The worst of these plagues was the killing of the Egyptians' first-born sons. Jews were to put blood on their tents, so the "angel of Death" would pass over their dwellings, and not kill anyone there. Hence, the name Passover.
As we try to make sense of what is happening, we can only hope that this virus will "pass over" us, so we can live and be free again.
We are told to stay home, avoid crowds of ten or more, and practice social distancing. We can do that. Some of us will, and some of us won't.
One thing we must not do is trivialize the impact of this plague, this virus that has already affected half a million people and their families.
Someone told me today that Minnesota is the number one state in the nation in following the health guidelines, keeping one's distance, and washing hands regularly. I hope this is true. I'd like to believe that Minnesota nice means something more than passive/aggressive behavior. I hope it is about common sense, compassion for others, and willingness to work hard and sacrifice when necessary.
I am a member of Unity Minneapolis, a church that is now closed for a while. This church believes that we have a God part inside us to connect us to ourselves, others, and spirit. The church provides a "First Aid Kit" of services while being closed to the public. Ministers are available to phone visits. Weekly and other services are being live-streamed. Prayer chaplains are ready to pray for us. Silent Unity, a national prayer program, exists for prayer support. Service angels are available to shop and do errands for the susceptible elderly among us. Feeding the hungry continues as a mission.
In this time of distance, it is vital to feel connected -- emotionally and spiritually. People are reaching out others. Many of us make phone calls daily to friends and family. I have received more than ten offers from friends to go to the store, or do other errands.
However this situation turns out, I want to believe that it brought out the best in our people -- honesty, integrity, kindness, generosity, compassion, and love. Maybe this is the ULTIMATE message. In Brene Brown's words, we are "vulnerable, daring greatly, and rising strong."
I am grateful for those who take this virus seriously, and act out of respect for scientific experts' knowledge, self-love, healthy boundary-setting and loving concern for the common good.
When I was growing up, my mother always said, "This, too, shall pass" when times were bad. But in the meantime, she did all she could to make life work the best for all of us.
Love and blessings,