I do things for a long time.

I have lived for a long time in the same city in the same house. I have been married for a long time to the same woman. I have held the same position in the same organization for a long time.

On this first day of April 2020 it is important to reflect for a moment on doing things for a long time.  We are seventeen days into self-distancing, heightened personal hygiene and curtailing any social activities in an attempt to confine the COVID infection. Whether or not we have symptoms or have been in contact with anyone who shows symptoms, we are mandated to keep our distance from everyone except the people with whom we live. Work at home is encouraged. Schools are closed; parks, golf courses, recreation centres, libraries, stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars are all shut. There are no concerts to attend; theatres are silent. It feels like a life-time since we have been able to sit down for a latte in our local coffee shop.

But this has only begun. We are told we have at least another forty-four days to go before life may be able to return to even a semblance of what it was before COVID. And, even when the rates of infection and death subside, we are going to be feeling the effects of all this for a long time. Life has changed. We are in this for the long haul.

So, what is the discipline for going the distance? What does it take to keep going consistently and faithfully in the same direction for a long time?

I may be an exception but, I think that the thing that has made it possible for me to keep going in the same direction for a long time is that I have a low need for external stimulation. I am not threatened by sameness. Familiarity feels friendly not dull. The same people and the same places are comforting rather than tedious. There is enough challenge and excitement in the routine actions of my regular life so that I seldom feel compelled to seek out ways to be entertained. Most of my adventures have been internal.

It is possible this makes me a dull or even a complacent person. But, in my experience, there is a richness and challenge to my internal life that surpasses anything I could hope to find simply by changing jobs, going to a new geographical landscape or swapping off the people who inhabit my life.

I think this is what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of “eternal life”. He was not referring primarily to life that goes on and on and on into eternity, though this may have been a dimension of what he was pointing to in this phrase. When Jesus spoke of “eternal life”, he was speaking about a different quality of life here in this present moment.

Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24)

This is a present tense reality. “Eternity” is life lived with an awareness of the depth dimension that we may miss if we are constantly changing the scene and altering the people in our lives.

As the parameters of our lives have narrowed in these days of COVID disconnection, perhaps we may find the time and the space to explore more fully the rich terrain of the inner life that will help us to sustain this journey for a long time.

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B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix on Tuesday told people in his province there is “zero chance — none” that orders meant to tackle COVID-19 would be varied by the end of this month. 

“I think we’re in this for a long time,” he said.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/coronavirus-covid19-april1-canada-world-1.5516328