May We Live in Interesting Times: Blessing or Curse?

There is an oft-quoted Chinese proverb that says: “May you live in interesting times.”  As it turns out, there is little to no evidence of such a proverb, which was, supposedly, both a curse and a blessing.  There is evidence from the mid-1930’s that a British statesman (Sir Austen Chamberlain) quoted this phrase as received from someone in China. Ancient or just old, this saying seems to resonate with our current situation of pandemic.

We all mark our lives with memories of events and milestones. It is likely that some of us will remember 2020 for a long time to come.  How will we remember it?

Since Yates went into healthy captivity, I have had the occasion to talk with people from different perspectives in the church to learn how they are coping with the changes we are experiencing, and its inspiring just how many report how they are taking advantage of the time at home to do things they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, have done without a pause in schedule.

Hats off to the parents who have become “teachers”. There is new appreciation for the work of professional educators as a result. And, this has given more opportunities to strengthen relationships within families, after working out some of the messy details, so to speak.  Keeping students from toddlers to teens (or beyond) focused takes patience, planning, and love.  So, some families will remember this time as one in which parents and their children paid closer attention to one another.  That’s a good thing.

In addition, parents having to practice their skills as recreation planners, chefs, transportation providers, and, perhaps riot police to keep order, have honed these skills, or developed them.  And while doing all this, many have continued to maintain a paid job, performing duties from home.  2020 may be remembered for an exponential rise in nominations for Sainthood….

Some of our Yates family have not fared so well. For those already isolated due to illness or living in a setting that is effectively quarantined, they have been even more isolated and unable to see family in person. Those that are on the front lines protecting and serving (Doctors, Nurses, Law Enforcement, First Responders, teachers, public health specialists, and people keeping us fed and safely housed, have been more exposed to the virus, but also the anxieties that go along with it.  Some of those who are struggling financially are struggling even more now, having less control over their situations, and the worries that go with it.

So, we do live in interesting times.  How we see them—blessing or curse—is up to us in how we respond.  We have choices to make to determine what these times teach us. Spending time with immediate family will produce memories—they can be times of love and growth. (Or they can be time we call in law enforcement backup, but let’s not go there…) Reaching out to the Yates family and neighbors in new and expanded ways will produce new relationships among us, strengthening the bonds we share—if we will simply reach out. Some will learn new skills (not learn the oboe, please, for the sake of the rest of the family) and enhance current ones.  These will open doors to more sharing later.

Most of all, this “interesting time” we live in gives us a chance to remember that we are the people of “good news”.  We are called to share it and be it to the world. That starts wherever we are.  The best news we share is a simple scripture: “Love never fails” (I. Corinthians 13:8a.) We have time to do it.


– Sam Haithcock

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