A Perspective Shift

— Midweek Meditations:
thoughts, inspiration and encouragement
from ACF community members —

Everyone who has attempted to read through the whole bible has had to make their way through Leviticus: 27 chapters / 859 verses / 613 laws on all aspects of society – from childbirth, to food, sickness, work-life-balance, relationships and much more. Honestly, it’s not the most exciting and inspiring read, not only because of it’s (sometimes bewildering) minute details, but also because the life described here doesn’t seem to have anything in common with 21st century Europe.

Well, until sometimes – during special circumstances – passages formerly deemed irrelevant or even odd, suddenly don’t sound quite as strange anymore…

If a man or woman develops a sore (…), the priest will offer a diagnosis. (…) He will put the person in quarantine for seven days. On the seventh day he will reexamine the sore; (…) As long as anyone has the sores, that one continues to be ritually unclean. That person must live alone; he or she must live outside the camp. (…)

These are the instructions for the infected person at the time of his cleansing. First, bring him to the priest. The priest will take him outside the camp and make an examination (followed by detailed instructions for cleansing – including ceremonial washings and sacrifices). He has made atonement for him. He is clean.

from Leviticus 13 & 14

Sounds familiar, right?

If you test positive, your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the test, if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10  full days. If you get symptoms while you’re self-isolating, the 10 days restarts from the day after your symptoms started. (…) Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone. (…) You must not leave your home if you’re self-isolating. (…)

It’s a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not self-isolate.

From http://www.nhs.uk

Unexpected aha-moments (pun intended! 😉 ) whilst reading, or listening to, the bible are a beautiful thing to happen, and nothing we can willfully manufacture. And who would have thought, that a passage from Leviticus, of all things, would speak to me (and maybe even you)! Yet, this is what happened and thus, becomes one of the many surprises that those past twelve months of pandemic had in store.

Browsing further through my bible, a new testament story jumps out at me. It’s one of those I’ve known for decades:

One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.” Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone. Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their sicknesses.

Luke 5:12-15

This little tale had never meant much to me, yet now it demands center stage, because my worldview has changed so much. These days, I’m aware of elders in care homes withering away in isolation. I’ve have come to realise that even modern medicine has it’s weak spots and know, that people die whilst separated from their loved ones. I have learned about the strain on mental health caused by living isolated from community.
In this light, the healing that Jesus gifts this man takes on such beauty. The 2021-version of me feels so much compassion, almost kinship, to this person. For the first time I grasp the depths of this miracle! Jesus restores not only physical health, but so much more.

Can you, too, imagine the man’s joy at being able to finally return home? You and I have come to understand, what it feels like being starved from hugs. Jesus touches the unclean man, who soon is able to end his quarantine.

Maybe the next time one of us exclaims “I can’t wait to go back to normal!” we will remember our connection through the millennia with this healed man and the people Leviticus was originally written for. And perhaps the loving and redeeming presence of Jesus will infuse the days of ongoing pandemic with hope and light.

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