Easter Sunday. Whether you're religious or not, this is considered by many to be a time of rebirth and renewal, and of excitement for brighter days ahead. Yet this year, as humanity fights a planet-wide battle against our common enemy known as COVID-19, it's easy to instead feel afraid, vulnerable, and alone. We know we'll get through this crisis, eventually. But we also know that too many will die, and many more will suffer lasting damage along the way. We try to stay positive, productive, and calm. We try to count our blessings and take nothing for granted. But it's hard not to also feel despair. We watch with grim resignation as hospitals flood with victims and we are forced to shelter in place. We sit helplessly as millions are suddenly thrown out of work, with no idea of when they'll again see a steady paycheck. Those of us lucky enough to still have our health and our jobs know that despite all our precautions and efforts, any one of us could be next. And we wonder when or if things will ever return to "normal".
This may seem cold comfort, but with these somber reflections in mind I can't help but think of our song Purgatory (Resurrected) as a somewhat fitting and strangely soothing tune for this particular moment. (Link and lyrics below.) When I first wrote it many years ago, I was in a dark place. In hindsight, however, whatever I faced back then now seems inconsequential, almost silly. As the coronavirus tears through our present world, it has rapidly brought into sharp relief what is most important: Reasonably good health. Family and friends (even at a safe distance). Food and shelter. Enough money and community support to get by. Doctors, nurses, and first responders. Store clerks and restaurant workers. Occasional fresh air and sunshine. A creative outlet now and then.
I've almost always had all of this available to me. I haven't always appreciated it. My hope for a silver lining coming out of this prolonged period of loss and suffering: A new and lasting sense of gratitude for all that we've been given, and an unyielding faith that together we can overcome any challenge.
Stay safe and well, friends.
You have to go through hell before you get to heaven
I'm crawling through there now and I'm barely alive
Please let me in, I need a rest, I’ll tell you some stories
Let me crawl inside, I need a place to hide
Lock the doors,
Dim the lights,
Pull the shades down tight
I won’t bite if you don’t bite, let’s huddle together
We’ll make it through, I swear it’s true, it’s just for a while
Take my hand, close your eyes
Hold your breath, count to ten
Here they come, with their knives
They’re gonna feed on your insides
You can run but you can’t hide
They’re gonna find you day or night
Feel your head, swallow your pride
If you’re not dead you’ll be alright
The pain is gone, now take a breath,
and let’s whisper softly
Tell me you’re afraid and I will tell you the same
it’s hard sometimes to be alive
and we don’t know when the pain will go
If you’re like me
you’re always alone
and clinging to a dangling rope
So let me in, I’m burning sin
it may not be pleasant
But you have to go through hell before you get to heaven
Purgatory (Resurrected) single cover artwork, published Oct. 2019. Painting by Patrick Neary.