While on a walk a few days ago, I discovered that the pond at my favorite corner was empty. Normally filled to the top with water, I could see every rock along the bottom. With temperatures in the low-40s, seeing that gaping hole somehow made the afternoon even colder. No reflection of the buildings around. No ducks swimming across the top. No ripples from bugs diving down from the air.
I felt an urge to go home, fill a bucket of water and come back to cover up the emptiness. Luckily my head caught up with my heart before I trekked a mile each way for a splash of water that would maybe cover a few pebbles. So instead I stayed at the corner and tried to think through why “my” little pond was empty. Perhaps it was to provide space for cleaners to come through. Or with the cold nights this month, to protect the pipes from freezing. Since this was a created pond, that meant the emptiness was created too and had to have some purpose behind it.
In 2020, there has been so much emptiness that was not by anyone’s intention. No one wants to social distance. No one wants to close down restaurants, theaters, and schools. No one wants to cover faces with masks. No one wants a sneeze to be a panic half a block away. But these are all things happening right now because of bigger causes and bigger purposes. As much as I don’t want that pond to be empty this winter, it would be even worse to have it broken for ever. And as much as I don’t want to put on a mask every time I step out my door, it would be even worse to get my sweet neighbor Vera sick.
This season, for however long it lasts, is one of rebuilding from what has happened and building for what is coming. We get to make choices now for the sake of future us. And those choices show what strength looks like.