21 March

Love In The Time Of Corona

by Jon Katz

What does it mean to love in the Time Of Corona? For me, it’s about the other.

Thomas Merton wrote that “love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another. if a man (or woman) is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.”

Love has become one of the greatest of all the cliches; it is used so often by so many people in so many different contexts that it has almost lost its meaning. It is a profoundly exploited and distorted idea.

In a sense, love is the point. That’s what God told his people in the Kabbalah. Love is the reason we are here, what separates us from every other living thing, what makes us human.

In the time of Corona, the meaning of love has never been more apparent or meaningful.

We don’t have to be the people we see hurling insults and accusations at one another on TV. We can choose to love in the way every great faith and spiritual leader intended: to care for and lift up other human beings.

Love is something it’s easy for me to say, but not always easy for me to do.

Love, in this context, is the highest attainment of humanity. And it has rarely been needed more than it is today. There is nothing more natural for anyone to do right now than love others.

True love, I believe, is about one simple thing: the good of those that are loved. It leaves everything else behind. Love, therefore, is its own reward.

In a spiritual context, we are living in a world that is completely transparent now, and the divine is shining through it all the time.

Love is no longer mundane. Almost everyone needs our help, and there are so many people to thank and appreciate for making our lives possible.

Love can be seen the neighbors who gather outside of a home to sing happy birthday to an 84-year-old woman who is under quarantine.

Love is the thousands of young people setting up social media groups to help people who can’t leave their homes safely shop. Love is the federal and other workers who keep the structure of our civilization functioning.

Love is the rainbows children are making to put in their windows and connect with friends they can’t see or play with.

Love is the supermarket cashier who goes to work to make sure people are fed, or the postal carrier who delivers the mail, or most especially the nurse or doctor who faces danger every day to heal others.

Love is the governor who takes responsibility for what he does, and makes the hardest decisions, and tells us the truth we need to face.

Love has become a stranger in our world, pushed to the edges of argument and greed and selfishness. Love is about empathy and reaching out to the other, not hating them.

The pure and exact idea of love is right at our fingertips, and I can share a secret: people who commit acts of love do not feel much fear, they do not panic, they do not spread hatred and grievance, or blame others for our troubles, or spread division, or tremble under their bedsheets.

Love sometimes seems trite, but not now. There are all kinds of new ways to love, they are urgently necessary, and they are everywhere we look, online or off.

Love is healing and natural because it means we are fulfilling their destiny.

These people who love step out of themselves and into the wider world. Love feels like nothing else. It demands the most heroic labor and complete sacrifice.

It calls for just as much heroism as war. It demands the highest fidelity to the truth and the most perfect purity of conscience.

It requires us to show our vulnerability and see it in others, and to face our weaknesses and help others with theirs.

We will get out of this through love.

In the time of Corona, it’s the point, at least for me.

And possibly, just possibly, love is infectious itself and will spread all over the world.

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