Growing up in New Jersey, my Grandparents lived 20 miles away. Behind their house was a carriage barn with a field and woods beyond that. When I was eight, my older sister and I were playing around in the yard between the barn and the house. It was night, dark, and the yard light was on. Behind the barn was the darkness of the field and the woods. We decided to run behind the barn and challenge our fear of the dark. My sister, 11, tried it, but never made it all the way behind the barn before she got scared and ran back. I made it all the way behind the barn, but ran back to the light very quickly. We debated trying it again. I remember thinking; there is nothing back there that is not there in the daylight. I ran back there a second time and stayed in the field letting my eyes adjust to the dim starlight. I was right; there was nothing there that was not there in the daylight.

So what are you seeing? Have your eyes have had time to adjust? All of life has been touched. There is certainly still some darkness. COVID has not ended. The last statistic I saw was that the average age of those testing positive is now 35. The vaccines (J&J’s issues noted) have been very effective against the virus. However, there remains an anti-vaccination movement. One of my sisters deals with this as a MD. Patients refuse the vaccine feeling as if it is unsafe or a conspiracy of some kind. She tells them that could be a serious problem for them. With so many of the front line medical workers vaccinated, if there is a serious problem with the vaccine, it would mean a worldwide collapse of the medical community. We are clearly not entering a time of greater trust and unity.

I wish it were otherwise. A crisis moment can draw us closer or drive us apart. I have seen (and felt within myself) moments of both on campus and in the larger community. My wife works as a counselor at the Crisis Center. She notes more people are bringing food and providing meals. At the same time, violence against the homeless persons of color have escalated dramatically. It is rather frightening not knowing which path will win out.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist author and thinker, was asked after 9/11 what the Buddhist response would be to the terrorism of that day. He said that he would look in the mirror, and then ask what role he played (through his lifestyle, attitudes and so forth) in causing that event and change his life. His response remains the greatest power any of us have to alter life around us. May we choose the path that reduces suffering and creates greater understanding. Always, but especially now.


Pastor Karl