03.25.2022 – Life in the Lull

Most mornings I check the “Coronavirus in the U.S.” case count chart in the New York Times. The story the chart told at the beginning of the year was a bit scary, but its early spring tale is much more reassuring. The case count is down and seems to be staying down. At least for now. Pandemic politics aside, we’d all agree we’re in a better place now than we were in January or through most of the second half of 2021. Please, no more surges.

The Morning Dispatch says Johns Hopkins University public health professor Chris Beyrer calls what we’re experiencing now an “epidemiological lull.”

Lull is an old world of unknown origin, though it may be related to “lullaby.” And as with a sleeping baby, there is a “for now” sense to the word. The baby is quiet for now.  News agencies have reported an occasional lull in the fighting in Ukraine.  The Russian artillery is silent for now. But a lull always worries about a “yet to come.” The baby will wake and start fussing again. The shelling will resume. The next variant will bring another spike in Covid cases.

There is a “for now” peace to be found in a lull, but also a “yet to come” anxiety about a lull.

Covid isn’t over say those who study such things. It may never be. But for now, we are experiencing an “epidemiological lull.” Enjoy it while it lasts.

I would like more certainty, a promise that the red line on the chart is down for good. The best we’ll get, however, is a lull, a pause before no one knows what. Some would have us believe some sort of Deltacron monster is lurking around the corner, others say it will be something like a once-in-a-while bad flu year. Don’t believe any of them. That’s the thing about a lull; you don’t know what, when, where, or how about the yet to come.

Life in the lull. Or maybe life hoping and praying that the lull might come. Life knowing that someday, maybe tomorrow or maybe ten years from now, a test result, a call to the boss’ office, or a phone call from a distraught relative will end the lull. Or maybe wondering how much more of the surge of sorrow we can take, hoping for a lull, just a pause from bad news on top of bad news.

Some preachers tell us that becoming a Christian means a permanent pause on all things unhappy. Don’t believe them. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus told his disciples the night of his betrayal.

Some pundits tell us that things are only going to get worse, our lives destroyed by climate change or woke activists, tech oligarchs or greedy bankers. Don’t believe them. “Take heart, I have overcome the world,” Jesus told his disciples the night of his betrayal.

And might we say that no matter what the troubles or blessings of this particular day, we live out our lives in an eschatological lull. “Already and not yet,” some say. Waiting for the “fullness of time,” is how the Apostle Paul puts it. If so, the good news is that we need not be anxious about the “yet to come” as we live our lives in a “for now” world.  “I go and prepare a place for you, (and) I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” Jesus told his disciples the night of his betrayal.

Life in the lull: an epidemiological lull and an eschatological lull. I don’t know what is going to happen to the red line on the New York Times Covid Cases chart. But for whatever the troubles or the blessings of this “for now” life in the eschatological lull, we have a sure and certain hope that will not disappoint us.