The pilgrim pauses in the kingdom of the Covid | Stanley David - GulfToday

The Pilgrim pauses in the kingdom of the Covid (with apologies to the ideas debated in Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan)


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Stanley David

The Pilgrim was at the City centre, and a crowd was beginning to form around him. And the TV channels began to take their positions. It was rumoured that the Pilgrim, an acclaimed spiritual leader, would deliver a message. The year had been tumultuous. And everyone had their concerns regarding what lies ahead as 2020 inched itself across the holiday season. Perhaps, he would talk about Covid, or health, wealth and all good things that money can buy and those which money cannot buy.

The Pilgrim stood transfixed at the centre of the stage, as he gazed contemplatively at what French writer Albert Camus would describe as “the benign indifference of the universe.”

What a year it has been! Beware of the ides of March, said the Bard a long time ago. By the end of March 2020, in each and every country, what began as a local or state or countrywide virus attack quickly spread across the globe affecting each and every country like a viral Mexican wave on steroids. Everywhere one heard this: Can you please stop being outside and rush to your homes, and stay put, and pray, while we figure out what to do and how, and survive this attack?

The Pilgrim paused to think and reflect upon what was happening. He recalled how over the ages, through all the famines and earthquakes, and plagues and the epidemics, the religions of the world had flourished when disaster struck. For it in times of such despair, that people rush to worship, prostrating and pleading that God, save us, for we know not what to do. “O God,” cries the believer, “for you, it is nothing, so why don’t you rush in and set it right and eliminate this coronavirus, strip it of its crown, and banish it into oblivion forever. So, what happened this time. Has there been a spiritual surge of religious upheaval across the globe? Have there been narratives of miracles healing and fantastic recovery among the faithful? “

The Pilgrim recalled how it was during such dreadful interludes, as humanity was threatened and annihilated and yet, Hope managed to survive, and so did Faith and Truth, and above all Love, or Unconditional Love to be precise that transcends all borders and nations, and fills the heart of the pious and the faithful with such wondrous healing thoughts. Yes, and miracles did happen, and the numbers of the faithful all over the world increased manifold, and joy and good cheer prevailed. Almost every time, and in every nation. Ask me, I was there, and I have been around the world.

So, you say, and we hear what you say – but our eyes perceive a different reality. We see the coronavirus growing and mutating, and who is there that can understand it, and counter its attack with the right vaccines and know how to stop it in its tracks, and bring about a healthy new world order. Do you see the seasonal cheer missing this season? Call it what you will, do you not perceive the end days, or what the Indians call the Kaliyuga, or some call the Armageddon, or the Qayamat or Judgement day -– has the countdown already begun?

And after a great reflective silence, the Pilgrim addressed the large swelling crowd around him and shared this message:
“What does death mean to you, ye who have not understood life as it was given to you? Have you ever paused to gaze at the heavens above, and counted the endless array of stars, that are interspersed across billions of galaxies ? Every spore and every cell on earth has its run and its eventual demise, and yet, Life goes on. The Corona episode is just a blink in the march of Life on earth. Get your act together. Get over your binges and gluttony and greed and the plunderous assault on Mother Nature, and purify and strengthen your mind, body and soul, and harness the power of that unconditional love – reach out to the hopeless, and the deprived, and willingly and consciously begin your healing and recovery. Your time has come –not to die and be wiped off from the face of the earth, but to witness the miracle of rejuvenation. Go, spread the good news of Love abounding, here, there, and everywhere. “

Then, the Pilgrim stopped, smiled and waved at the crowd, and continued the long walk towards the next destination. It was time for the Pilgrim, also known as Father Time, to move on –towards 2021 and beyond.

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