No different than it was nearly 40 years ago when HIV/AIDS struck the community and unmerited acts of mercy bloomed in the desert of disease, once again acts of boldness, courage and self-less grace are giving witness to our larger humanity in the midst of COVID-19.

Perhaps we are being roused to reality after several years of “Me First”, often disguised by political sloganeering and shameless acts of cruelty on our aspiring Americans, both within and outside national borders. Perhaps, too, we have been lulled into submission by the promises about the “best healthcare system in the world”. Now we are compelled to face the grim reality of an urban patchwork of services offered best to those who can pay with the leftovers going to the less fortunate and more needy. 

Today, the Congress has acted and help is on the way for many, but not for all. In the harshness of political wrangling, the heavily populated District of Columbia has, again, received short shrift, because Members go to their real homes in cities, towns, ranches and farms, forgetting the District. It’s been problem since the creation of our Republic. The Capitol is often forgotten and left out. All of this is to say, we still need to call upon our “higher angels” to become then whole people that we tout to the world.

But moments ago I rediscovered wonder while walking in my 40-year old neighborhood. I came upon the fresh scent of Hyacinths and Daffodils after a gentle spring rain. The scent was luscious and alluring as the colors of pink, purple yellow and green cast their own sunshine in this spring garden to which I walk every spring. Sitting in the midst was Vivian, who with Hannah, planted this garden 35 years ago, “to bring delight and wonder to the community”.

Dumbstruck and delighted to meet meet this elegant lady, she explained that she and Hannah “just did this to spruce up the place and bring some color”. As the years have passed and so has Hannah, Vivian comes often to check on “our garden” marking the seasonal change and to sit a spell to remember. In her gracious telling, this simple act of mercy was simply to relieve eyes tired from the monotony of winter. Hers and Hannah’s gift was so much more. For all who seek delight and joy, and the silent witness of hope, it is testimony to the larger love and compassion to which each of us is called in the name of our humanity. 

This sacred garden reminded me of this song, by the Medical Mission Sisters:     

God our Mother, Living Water, River of Mercy, Source of Life, in whom we move and have our being, who quenches our thirst, refreshes our weariness, bathes and washes an cleanses our wounds, be for us always a fountain of life, and for all the world a river of hope springing up in the midst of the deserts of despair.

(Miriam Therese Winter, Resources for Ritual, Medical Mission Sisters, Meyer Stone Books, Oak Park, IL., 1987)