A sacred romance within the COVID-19 pandemic | The change
On New Year's Eve, Andrew and Starbeth dreamed of a beautiful outdoor wedding in May overlooking the Hudson River. They asked me to officiate at their ceremony at sunset so that at the beginning of the procession, she and her guests could see the sun gradually going down to the water. "I hope it doesn't rain," I replied with a grin and Andrew laughed nervously.
In retrospect, it is ironic to think that a little spring rain was the worst we feared when a global pandemic was looming. We didn't know that New York City would soon become the epicenter of the novel Covid-19 outbreak. that hospital tents would be set up over Central Park; and that a fleet would moor in New York Harbor to replenish the city's dwindling resources a month before the wedding.
Starbeth's dream wedding quickly turned from a cute, quirky musical in La Land to a dystopian apocalypse in Zombie Land.
Simone Weil, the late French philosopher, once wrote: “There are only two things that can pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is suffering. “In modern times, most of us try to avoid the latter at all costs and only hope for the former.
But maybe there is also a certain poignant beauty in suffering, something that we lack and that can only teach us an event that is as radical as a pandemic. That's exactly what I see as a minister serving in these unprecedented times in New York City.
When the city was closed and social distance protocols introduced, we knew that a wedding cancellation was inevitable. We discussed alternatives, but rescheduling proved difficult because Starbeth was a key healthcare worker who was at the forefront at the height of the outbreak.
We decided that the best option was to go ahead with the ceremony and that it would be best to hold the reception later if the Macarena wasn't such a criminal act (though our dance moves could be).
When Starbeth found comfort in setting an appointment, she was reminded of a dream that her friend Hailey had last spring. In the dream, Starbeth was depressed after Andrew suggested a ring pop with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle when she was expecting the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany & # 39; s.
Still, afterwards she found it comforting. She felt that God had sent the dream to her not as a harbinger of the pandemic, but as a silver lining in the middle.
In the Christian tradition, although we believe that God speaks mainly through His Word, God can speak prophetically in various ways, including through film, art, music, and dreams. Brent Curtis and John Eldredge frame it in TheSacred Romance as follows:
When we listen, a sacred romance calls us through our hearts every moment of our lives. It whispers to us in the wind, invites us by laughing good friends, reaches us by touching someone we love.
We heard it in our favorite music, felt it when our first child was born, and were drawn to it when we watched the glimmer of a sunset on the sea. Romance is present even in times of great personal suffering: the illness of a child, the loss of a marriage, the death of a friend. Something calls us through such experiences and arouses an inconsolable longing deep in our hearts, and the voice that calls us to this place is none other than the voice of God.
In our culture today, when people hear the word "prophecy", they immediately think of someone like Nostradamus who predicts future events, while the New Testament primarily predicts and frames the prophecy for the present moment.
This should not in any way disregard the prediction, because the Old Testament gives an idea of the arrival of Christ in numerous reports. However, Paul's understanding of the main function of the prophecy is by no means mystical, but deeply practical.
The primary goal of the prophecy is to uplift others and encourage them in their struggles to free those who are currently prisoners here and now from doubting what God said in the light in the dark.
Earlier this month, my mood recovered a lot when Andrew and Starbeth got together for a holy marriage and exchanged their vows and ring pops from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. I began to understand better what Simone Weil meant by the exquisite confluence of beauty and suffering.
Admittedly, this wasn't the hallmark of the wedding they'd dreamed of, but somehow, by divine coincidence, they found their reality better than their imagination. You can't ask for anything more from a wedding day. God had given them a day to remember and an epic story to tell their grandchildren someday.
Ironically, it rained on the day of the ceremony, but it didn't dampen our mood. If anything, it felt like an Ionian scene straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel. A sacred romance, the lightness of ninja turtle ring pops and the fun of sacred laughter in the Corona virus era, all predicted by a dream.
In retrospect, if I have learned anything in the past month, God always speaks to us every moment of our lives. It's not that he doesn't speak; we just don't listen. Perhaps this quarantine time is just about any other time to start.
Brent Curtis and John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance: Getting closer to the heart of God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997) 6-7.
George Panichas A. (ed.) Simone Weil Reader: Moyer Bell Limited (Mt. Kisco, New York, 1977) 421-422.
Rev. Dr. Sam D. Kim is a co-founder of 180 Church NYC, a community that joins God to restore beauty in all things. He is a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics. He is a recipient of the lifelong learning scholarship at Yale Divinity School and Yale School of Medicine, which aims to bridge the gap between belief and science. It is awarded by the John Templeton Foundation and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.