I recently learned that in music, an interruption occurs when a dominant chord is followed not by the tonic expected chord, but by another chord, usually the submediant one. One which was unexpected.
Up until COVID-19, most of our lives were a series of dominant chords followed by expected chords. But an invisible virus with a crown emerged, and suddenly our songs were interrupted by chords which were below the surface, lingering but not expected to ever become dominant.
Thus we have the homeless interrupted from their daily drudgery of sleeping on sidewalks to being transported to hotels and convention centers.
Thus we have people in relatively new cars lining up for miles, awaiting boxes of free food.
Thus we have prestige shops and stores and sports franchises boarded up, some begging for federal handouts.
Thus we have televangelists limited to small camera zoom meetings, praying that their charisma will translate into offerings through the cloud.
Thus we have people wearing face masks like bandits, being ticketed for not dressing like outlaws.
In short, we have had our lives, as a whole, interrupted. I had a discussion with a friend recently who wondered if remote healing would work. Immediately I thought about the Roman officer who told Jesus he did not require him to be physically present in order to heal his servant, but to simply “say the word, and he will be healed.” Jesus marveled at this man’s faith, a person not even trained to believe.
In fact, so many of the miracles Jesus performed came from interruptions.
The interruption of a woman grabbing the hem of his garment, slowing his walk to another destination. She interrupted him, and she was healed.
The interruption of his mother speaking to him at a wedding, where he no doubt wanted to have at least one more day to remain anonymous, yet there she was—interrupting his plan.
And water turned into wine.
We have the interruption of the determined group of friends knocking a hole in the roof so their beloved friend could meet face to face with Jesus. And Jesus saw him, and the man was healed.
In fact, many of the greatest moments in scripture came from interruptions. As have the great changes in history. Slavery was going along at a steady pace, until Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” brought a new perspective that became a tipping point for the Civil War. A woman wrote a book of fiction that contained too many truths to ignore.
We have a chance, here and now, to create something better than before. True leaders see the opportunity that every danger in crisis represents, and realize that interruptions may lead to a new song to be sung, one with melodies people may have hoped, but never really expected to hear.
Do we really need that many cars on the road?
Do we really need that many streets in a city where cars zoom past pedestrians and bicycles at a breakneck speed?
Do we really need that many clothing stores, or jewelry stores, or stadiums? Stadiums are used by the home team basically 8 times a year. The rest of the time they just sit there, soaking up land and taxpayer subsidies.
Do we really need that many golf courses, limited to only a privileged few, soaking up water and real estate that could be better suited as city parks?
Do we really need that many towering office buildings, with names of Insurance Companies in huge letters at the top, many of whom obviously pay out less than they take in?
Here’s what I think we need more of. Libraries. Furniture stores. (Forgive me—I consider furniture to be art, and art is food for the soul.)
We need more parks.
We need more day care centers, subsidized so essential workers can help us heal.
We need schools not to just teach content, but life and relationship skills.
We need teachers to be valued for the relief as well as support they bring to parents, and to society.
We need caregivers of the elderly to be rewarded as richly as Wall Street scions.
We need swords turned into hammers, and microscopes.
We need free worldwide WIFI, so everyone has access to information, which is the primary tool of growth.
We need to realize that we are connected in a chain of interdependence. And that the prestige that others long have sought comes with community responsibility. And accountability.
We need to realize we have been so limited, thinking we know all we need to know.
I will end this blog with a story from a friend of mine, whose 10 year old son was concerned that he was now going to be homeschooled by his mother. She asked “Don’t you feel lucky that now you get to be taught by your mother, who used to be a teacher before you were born?” He replied with a worried look on his face “Not really, because she only made it to Second Grade.”
I think, in the eyes of the Universe, and in terms of spiritual values most religions hold dear, we have, for all our advancements, only made it to Second Grade.
We can do so much better, be so much better than we have been as a species.
Now is our chance.
And Dear Lord, by all means interrupt us, whenever you see fit.
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~ Live. Breathe. Joy ~ Laurie Beth