Covid-19 has ravaged nations around the world. We here in Trinidad and Tobago have not been spared. Few countries have.
The human family has had to struggle to cope with pandemic deaths on an unprecedented scale, as well as the economic fall-out of periodic lockdowns and the psychological stress that these have caused.
Our children have suffered too, not so much with the disease, but with the interruption of their education and importantly, the camaraderie, socialisation and personal growth that schooling brings.
If that were all, it would be difficult enough. But the human family is also having to cope with the life-changing crisis of climate change which is demanding fundamental transformation of the types of energy we consume and how we consume them.
We have to change the vehicles we use for transportation, the foods we eat, how we dispose of and recycle waste, and how we produce many goods.
Now that information and communication technologies are part of everything we do and use, we have to debate anew the questions of identity and privacy, and as social media proliferates, we reassess the meaning and scope of the right of freedom of expression.
Natural disasters seem to be more frequent and violent. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, wildfires are daily part of our diet of news. The flare up of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reminds us that war is ever close at hand.
We can be forgiven for thinking that the world is turning upside-down, that we are living in the ‘end-times’, and there are many messages circulating on social media which propagate ‘biblical prophesies’ as well as the ‘prophesies’ of mystics long dead.
We would do well though in this time of Pentecost, to recall the words of the prayer: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth.”
God’s Holy Spirit is a force of creation and renewal. Creation and renewal involve change, and change can sometimes be painful and upsetting.
God’s Holy Spirit is also a source of wisdom and consolation as the second half of the prayer says: “O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations….”
With eyes instructed by faith and with wisdom granted by the Holy Spirit, we can see triumph and joy in the midst of our trials and tribulations as the face of the earth is renewed.
We can see the extraordinary accomplishments of scientists who developed effective vaccines in record time building on work they were inspired to undertake years ago. We can see the extraordinary dedication and sacrifice of doctors and nurses working brutal shifts to care for patients desperate for a breath of oxygen.
We can see family members motivated only by love, going to extraordinary lengths to find oxygen supplies and administer them to loved ones.
Governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations too have made enormous sacrifices to sustain lives and livelihoods. Wisdom lets us see the generosity to the Vincentians displaced by the volcano’s eruption and their reciprocal generosity in donating vaccines to us.
These are not ‘end-times’. They are a time of renewal in which, in the face of a world groaning as it gives birth to a new order, we seize the opportunity to fill our hearts, to renew our faith, and to discern and participate wisely in the work of God’s Holy Spirit in our world.