In the Meantime,
Is it “Deja Vu are over again,” as Yogi Berra malapropped years ago? For those under 50, Yogi Berra was a person, a burly catcher for the New York Yankees who famously misspoke. Here we are at the bring of September and the pandemic that was in retreat in May and June is spiking again as it did last year at the same time. It feels like we have gotten nowhere, doesn’t it; that we are stuck in pandemic mode.
The Prime Minister of Australia recently likened this to the movie “Groundhog Day” in which the main character repeats the same day over and over. I used the adjective Sisyphean for a reason. The movie echoes Albert Camus’ philosophy found in his book called “The Myth of Sisyphus” in which he argues that it is possible to imagine the mythical Sisyphus happy in his fate to perpetually roll a rock up a mountain every day only to have it roll down at night.
That’s hard to see, because Camus is serious and abstract. Instead, let’s look at how Phil escapes his Sisyphean punishment in “Groundhog Day.” Having lived through the same day over and over, having tried everything to escape his bondage, he takes the advice of Rita and sees his bondage as a gift. Phil uses his knowledge of what is going to happen. He intervenes to save and help others, and in doing so cares more about them than himself.
Is it possible to see our pandemic bondage as a gift in a similar way? Honestly, I do not know. But only if I consider it a gift – look for the blessing in the burden – is it possible to find one. Let’s let that be our spiritual task as a community. Look for the gift we have received from this arduous time, the gift we are supposed to give not keep. Hold out the possibility, however preposterous it may seem – as preposterous as Sisyphus being happy – and see what comes to you. Who knows, you may just end up a concert pianist who speaks French and creates ice sculptures. – FW