Cogitation 13 Saturday 28 March 2020 Individuals, families, communities and nations around the world are faced with battling Covid-19. We look for answers, relief, reprieve. We look for physical, emotional and spiritual healing. My spirit was lifted this week in hearing our friend Ellen Kraybill playing and singing online a hymn whose refrain is, “Healer of our every ill, / light of each tomorrow, / give us peace beyond our fear, / and hope beyond our sorrow.” Written by Marty Haugen, a prolific liturgical composer, the hymn sails across time and space.
My thoughts go to a refrain from an African-American spiritual: “There is a balm in Gilead / to make the wounded whole, / there is a balm in Gilead / to heal the sin-sick soul.” And this assurance in the final stanza, “but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.”
From Wikipedia I learn that “Balm of Gilead was a rare perfume used medicinally, that was mentioned in the Bible, and named for the region of Gilead, where it was produced. The expression stems from William Tyndale’s language in the King James Bible of 1611, and has come to signify a universal cure in figurative speech.”
Balm: anything that comforts or soothes, yes. Temporal solutions, yes. Inward inspiration of the powers of physical, emotional and spiritual healing, yes. Outward reach in thoughts, prayers and acts of compassion with others in need, yes.
For me, with Easter looming, I claim Jesus as my “balm of Gilead,” the Jesus who took on human suffering in death, was resurrected and reigns through the church. We’ve been deeply encouraged by the online messages from religious leaders, family and friends, as by the heroic efforts of front-line workers battling Covid-19.
On Thursday at 8 pm we joined a host of Britons who opened their doors or windows to Clap For Carers. A spokesperson for the organizers said, “during these unprecedented times they need to know we are grateful.” Some landmarks, such as the Royal Albert Hall, were lit-up in blue during the salute. We heard applause from next door and behind the hedges across the street. Truly, a moment of solidarity offered to the National Health Service and other carers all across the UK.
A plea from the NHS for volunteers to join up to call people, deliver medications, and help with many other support services, was met with overwhelming response; more than 500,000 people volunteered in 24 hours and many more since. Also, villages have organized to reach out to elderly and others via delivery services, phone calls, leaflets placed in mail slots and online listing of whom they can call as needs arise.
May the balm of Gilead, in literal sense and figurative speech, convey our longing for “a universal cure.”
Photos are from the permitted one walk per day we took this week. We maintain social distance from the few walkers we meet, sharing a wave, a smile, sometimes an encouraging word, even commiseration.
There’s so much beauty to see all around.
We have tickets in hand to return to the US a little we more than a week from now. We pray for travel safety, including that transport and connections stay intact. Likewise we pray for others returning to their homes from around the world. A niece wrote: “We will pray you home.”
We rejoice in the news that our great-niece Selah, and fellow students, have been able to return to Canada today from their study-service term in Guatemala. PTL!
We rejoice in new life among us, we are especially grateful for the safe arrival this week of great-great-niece, Reya, born to Kaitlyn and Manny in Chicago. PTL!
There are constant reminders around us of God’s love and care for humankind, the crown of God’s creation.
Across time and space, may we gain and give comfort and “peace beyond our fear.” May the growing communal spirit prosper and endure.
Peace, grace, love and renewed hope.