Contrast

C.S. LEWIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE AUTHORS

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors. I became a fan the summer after 5th grade, when I read The Chronicles of Narnia, and wept when I finished the last one – not so much because of the sadness of the tale, but that it was over.

Turns out, Lewis was close friends with J. R. R. Tolkien. In fact, Tolkien led Lewis back to Anglicanism after years of his having been an atheist.

Lewis was to become a great theologian. In my senior year of high school I read his book, Mere Christianity, and the concept of contrast hit home: the idea that without rain, we wouldn’t appreciate sunshine; without pain, we wouldn’t feel comfort; without cruelty, we wouldn’t see kindness; without terror, we wouldn’t know peace; without evil, we wouldn’t recognize good. Contrast is instrumental to our appreciating what we have because if we aren’t threatened with its loss, we take it for granted.

And as we stay home during this horrendous pandemic, I do think it helps to appreciate, feel, see, know, and recognize all the positives. Where we see hunger, ill-health, poverty, suffering, injustice, and untimely death, we also see amazing heroism. “Look for the helpers,” as Mr. Rogers said.

I see them all around us — in my neighbors, who are checking in on those who are alone; in the young man who shopped for us with such care and delivered our groceries with a respectful bow; in my friend Rita, who is sewing masks for service members and their families; in clergy conducting online services from home; in doctors opening their offices to ill patients; in our daughter Katie, who is a NICU nurse, and goes dutifully to her 12-hour shifts at the hospital, leaving behind her husband and three small children; in our newscasters broadcasting from home; in our restaurant workers, who cook our “to go” orders and serve us with a smile; to the grocery store workers, who diligently stock the shelves, sanitize the carts, and man the check-out counters; to volunteers who are calling to check on the vulnerable who are home alone.

I see “the helpers” with immigrant children who are separated from their parents. And I see them in the prisons, with those who feel hopeless.

As they go about their business, ‘the helpers” unconsciously model the good in this situation: the opportunity to be our best selves. Without realizing it, they are challenging us to join their ranks, to do what we can. And we all can do something.

Yes, life is filled with contrasts. And when this damned COVID-19 is over, and we have witnessed the great good in humanity, perhaps we will be better people, and the world will be a better place.

4 thoughts on “Contrast

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