Perfect metaphor for life during a global pandemic

Saturday was the perfect metaphor for life during a pandemic.

The sun, warm and bright, hung in a cerulean sky. A gentle breeze that kept the 80-degree air bearable carried the fragrance of magnolias, dogwoods and cherry blossom trees. Daffodils and hyacinths bloomed in front yards. Families, couples, individuals strolled along the streets and sidewalks.

It was uncannily like any other gorgeous spring day in any other year.

Except that instead of passing alongside as they come upon another walker, people crossed to the other side of the street. Everyone was still friendly enough. They smiled and nodded acknowledgment, but there was a wariness in their eyes as they discretely sized each other up. A little voice in the back of their minds whispered, “Could they be carrying coronavirus?”

The neighborhood park was empty, the swings swaying forlornly as a gust blew down the street. A month ago, on a day far less perfect than this, that park was full of families: Young couples standing guard around the jungle-gym, one ear on the conversation and both eyes on the little ones bundled in coats and boots. The absence of joyful shrieks and the vacant slides were a little eerie.

Even as dappled sunshine illuminated the new grass to emerald green, dark clouds loomed at the edge of the horizon: That deep bluish-purple, almost like a bruise, that built and roiled off in the distance. One may have even perceived the rumble of far-off thunder, less a sound heard with the ears and more a sensation felt in the chest.
We were merely brushed by evening cloud cover, but our neighbors to the north were hit hard by severe thunderstorms.

Isn’t that just like our lives right now? A beautiful bubble of springtime perfection with the vague threat of danger menacing us from a distance?

Most of us have managed to maintain at least some normalcy. So many of us have been spared the direct effects of COVID-19. The virus hangs like a storm at the edge of our days, but we only get a little cloudiness. And as we watch the tempest rage over others, we can’t help but be thankful it’s not us. This time, at least.

There’s a quote from Christine Caine that circulates on social media: “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.”

We’re certainly in a dark place. But there have been bright spots, too. It takes both light and dark, both warm sun and cold rain, to make plants bloom. There has been fear and uncertainty, greed and selfishness, sometimes bordering on cruelty. But there has also been kindness and compassion, generosity and good-will, love and support in spades.

It feels like we’ve been buried, but perhaps we have actually been planted. So what will our world look like when we bloom again?