I recently heard that a certain percentage of survivors of the influenza epidemic of the early 1900s manifested Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for a handful of years after the dying stopped.
The journalist in me wondered how modern Americans could determine an accurate percentage for something that happened a century ago — particularly given that PTSD wasn’t a diagnosis of the time. But, the human being in me knew, if anything was wrong with the number, it was probably that it was too low. It was more likely 100 percent.
I say this because, in my world at least, what I’ve come to call Post Pandemic Stress Syndrome is rampant. Indeed, given that my profession brings me into contact with strangers every week, I can anecdotally say that I see it everywhere I go.
Interviews — even those with upbeat subject matter — always drift to COVID. My source has been sick himself, perhaps in a long-haul kind of way. She’s lost someone. He’s lost something. She’s having trouble regaining a focus or hope.
No matter to whom I am speaking — rich or poor, black or white, young or old, faith-filled or seeker — there is an inevitable sigh and a look that drifts toward space. Sometimes there are tears.
I know this sigh and look and tears — from the inside as well as the outside. Look at the photo with this post. It’s a sculpture my youngest daughter made in art class this spring. I put it on the window sill above my desk because it is the very visual representation of what the entire world is doing right now — at least on the inside.
It’s not pretty or easy or any of the things that we like. But, I’ve come to realize we should thank God for such a posture of the spirit.
It is a right and peculiarly joyful thing to respond this way to the stresses of this long and brutal pandemic season. Indeed, if we are not reduced to at least our figurative knees, something is rather wrong with our souls.
So, I look at this sculpture and relate. I look at this sculpture and know I am not alone. All are struggling.
But, much more importantly, I look at this sculpture and remember there is a Jesus who looks at me. Especially on days when my heart is bent into this very shape. He relates. And, I will never be alone.