love in the time of covid

I hate to admit it, but I have never read \”Love In the Time of Cholera\” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I have picked it up in the used bookstore, flipped through it and then set it down, walking away with a a guilty backward glance. I know, that as a former English major, it is  GREAT LITERATURE and VERY IMPORTANT. But I just couldn\’t pull the trigger. 

As Rob muses in the classic film, \”High Fidelity\”, \”It\’s about girls, right?\” I may never know.

I went to sleep last night and woke up with the same title for a blog post fluttering through my brain. I wondered to myself: am I allowed to borrow this title…even though I have never actually read the book? I honestly don\’t know the ethics of something like that. So I am going to take the risk, this time.

The deep relaxation of this long weekend has been seeping into my bones. I have forced myself to sit still and actually register that feeling. My regular life is, to say the least, rushed and sometimes frantic. So getting into the rhythm of nature (in this case, a non-horror movie version of a cabin on the lake), of water and mountains, of snow and the scent of melting, reawakening earth, mud on my tennis shoes and that tight, achey feeling in my calves that means I moved my body in a slightly more demanding way yesterday. All of those things. If I am not careful, I will rush out of here in a couple of hours, focused on what needs to be done before we hurtle into another week; and I will forget the love letter I got this weekend.

Being near water ignites spiritual feelings and conversations late into the night.  Resting in the safety of a friend\’s listening ear allows me to articulate what has been lurking in the shadows of what I really think, used to think and hope might be true about Creator God. And echoes of sermons from Sundays past reverberate in my brain:

\”The Bible is a love letter, written by God, to his children that they might know his love and  his plan.\”

Yup, heard that one multiple times in my evangelical season. It was a lovely thought, and I know that it fueled some intense Bible study sessions, debating what exactly that love and those plans meant to humanity, and what exactly we were required to do about it. There was a lot of debate, especially for young, single women, attached and unattached, about what \”God\’s plan for their life\” actually shook out to be. Some hollered \”single now, but soon missionary-to-Turkey-who-then-meets-the-love-of-her-life-and-gets-married-and-has-a-church-sanctioned-happy-ending.\” Lordy. Ok, that seems strangely specific.  But, whatever. I guess they had that special skill of taking whatever they read in the Bible and making it mean some version of what they wanted anyway. Cool.

But what if the Creator\’s love letter reaches beyond the the written word? What if the Bible is simply one vehicle that communicates the great, great love directed towards us? What if it is hiding in Instagram? What if Facebook has an underlying current of not just targeted ads, but a sporadic and unrelenting echo of love, acceptance and peaceful reassurance? What if TikTok (bear with me) is a liminal space where the barrier between us and Spirit is the thinnest? Not gonna lie, there have been some late nights/early mornings where I have sat in silent weeping witness. Like that video when the military mom surprises her son by standing behind him in the team photo, until he senses her presence and turns into her unanticipated embrace? Lord, deliver me. Or the one with the  elaborate scheme to announce a pregnancy to some pending grandparents and the grandma-to-be screams and jumps around, and the grandpa-to-be just silently sits there with tears running down his face? What? 

Ok Tess,  but these people are total strangers on the internet. Yes, I will allow it. 

 Regardless, it is as though the scrim that hangs between my little life and the rest of humanity lifts, just for the two minutes and thirty seconds of that video. I am both the one having a baby and the one hearing the announcement. Could it be that love in the time of covid is warbling through those frequencies and making its way to each of us? Could our divine creator be shedding Her love on each of us through that one commercial that we encounter on Hulu between episodes of our favorite distraction? Maybe. Or through the silence I woke up to this morning, while fog drifted over the lake and the remnants of the sunrise drifted away over the mountain? Certainly possible. Could it be both?

I think we would agree that we need all the Love we can receive right now, and all that we can give to others. So perhaps the love letter has expanded past the book of James and is now found in odd and offbeat places where we do not expect it to rest. Open your eyes a little wider or squint a little more carefully to see it.  And then share it with a friend. And then give them \”Cholera\” to read and tell me what it\’s about.

in the midst,