I have been thinking a lot about the story of Exodus in this pandemic.
It began as I walked home the day that students were told that classes were going online the next day. Students were frantically carrying items from their dorms, very little properly packed. There was none of the festivity of move in day. None of the tenderness of the end of finals week. They were off, much like our ancient ancestors—survivors of a plague.
When the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, they received the law—the Decalogue or Ten Commandments—telling them how they would live. This time, too, has its own set of rules:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
- Don’t touch your face
- Sneeze into your elbow
- Wear a mask when away from your house
- Make sure your neighbors have what they need—share what you have
- Check in with those you love
- Find special ways to support others—financially, emotionally, tangibly
- Don’t be so hard on yourself
- Practice patience, even when feeling impatient—especially when feeling impatient
- Counter your own frustration with the limitations by keeping the greater good in mind
One of my favorite stories of Exodus has been this—when the people were hungry and complained, God sent manna every day. The trouble was, they couldn’t hoard it—they had to trust that what they needed for the next day would come. Day after day. In just same way we have had to trust that toilet paper and bleach and meat will come for all of us if we just don’t hoard. And it seems to be working, almost miraculously.
The Holiness Code, too, is said to have been written during this time. This is the set of laws in Leviticus that the Israelites were asked to follow, setting them apart from their pagan neighbors. So I have asked myself, how do I want to be different because of this time? For me, I am paying much more attention to my health: what I eat, how much I move, and returning to a time of daily meditation. At first it was helter-skelter, doing it differently every day. But now I have built an early morning routine that I will be able to carry on when I am able to return to my office. What about you? How do YOU want to be different?
The Exodus from Egypt led the Israelites somewhere—but they didn’t know where it would end. So, too, with us. But I am glad to be making the journey with you. BE WELL!
Image credit: Ten Commandments, Thomas Ingmire, Copyright 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.