A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL

A registered nurse prepares a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Yukon’s Minister of Community Services, John Streiker, says he’s outraged that a couple from outside the territory travelled to a remote community this week and received doses of COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-POOL

TAYLOR: Simple gestures show our faith

COVID-19 will not go away. HIV hasn’t, TB hasn’t. We just learned how to treat them.

“God in a stranger’s hello, God in a raised hand of greeting…”

So begins a short daily prayer recently offered by the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.

The prayer recognizes that COVID-19 restricts many interactions we used to take for granted.

It goes on, “those simple gestures, be it a glance toward a passerby who looks back with a nod or the friendly question about what breed of dog you’ve got there, give us moments of connection.”

As a dog walker, I relate to that prayer. That’s how I too experience life these days.

Corrymeela anticipates a return to normal, whatever that is: “When instead of passing by or getting only as far as small talk, we will be able to draw close and learn more from each other.”

I don’t see that happening. Not anytime soon. COVID-19 will not go away. HIV hasn’t, TB hasn’t. We just learned how to treat them.

Measles hasn’t, in spite of a universally available vaccine. VD hasn’t, despite generations of moral lecturing.

COVID-19, or its many mutations, will shape our social interactions for a long time.

Corrymeela House sits on a rocky headland high above the stormy North Atlantic.

In its early days, Corrymeela brought together groups of young people from the Protestant and Catholic sections of Belfast, kids who had never spoken to, never even met, a member of “the other side.”

Both groups expected to be murdered in their sleep.

But they weren’t. And they built bridges of friendship and understanding across sectarian chasms.

Corrymeela had a vision – “an open village where all people of goodwill could come together and learn to live in community.”

It hasn’t always been easy. Corrymeela could mean “Hill of Harmony.” It could also mean “Lumpy Crossroad.”

In this time of social isolation, we act like “ships that pass in the night” – the only memorable line in an interminable poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about lovers in a Puritan colony.

We exchange signals at a distance. We may know the other “ship’s” name. But we don’t know what kind of emotional baggage it carries, how sturdy its engines are, where it’s headed.

And then our paths diverge.

I think of another poet’s line: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… Long I stood, and looked down one as far as I could… then took the other…” That’s from Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.

Frost doesn’t contend that one road was better than the other. Only that, having made a choice, he can never know where the other road might have led.

We’ve all done that. Made a decision. And wondered for the rest of our lives where a different decision might have taken us.

We pass people along our way. Sometimes we walk a short distance together. Then we separate. Never encounter each other again.

Ships in the night.

Sad, isn’t it?

Until closer relationships are possible, the Corrymeela prayer concludes, “We give thanks for that stranger’s hello and the greeting we offer in kind.”

Maybe, in these times, it’s enough to celebrate God’s presence through simple gestures – a smile, a nod, a word.

Maybe these are the new liturgy of celebrating the Holy among us.

Jim Taylor lives in Lake Country.

rewrite@shaw.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Coldstream owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Vernon residents can breathe a little easier now that a dust advisory has ended in the area. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Dust advisory lifted in Vernon

Changing meteorological conditions have improved regional air quality

The City of Vernon is looking for input into its Climate Action Plan. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon voices wanted on climate action plan

Community engagement sought on city plan

Displays and programming have continued at the Vernon Public Art Gallery despite pandemic restrictions. (Lianne Viau file photo)
Support keeps Vernon art groups’ lights on

Despite pandemic restrictions, art gallery and others sustaining the storm

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read