“And as for death, if there be any gods, it is no grievous thing to leave the society of men.  The gods will do thee no hurt, thou mayest be sure. But if it be so that there be no gods, or that they take no care of the world, why should I desire to live in a world void of gods, and of all divine providence.

Marcus Aurelius, in Meditations.

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These – the words of the pre-Christian stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor.  And, I offer them in this time when death surrounds us each – such is our plight in The Present Time of Virus.

In these words, Marcus Aurelius tells us that if there is a God we need not fret leaving the “society of men” and if there is no God there is no sense or desire living in a world without God.

Aye, would that this be how we live in the world today, and especially in the largely Christian West and among those who profess to be Christians.  A Christian, of course, believes there is a God – and as Marcus Aurelius declares – of such a Deity one can expect that in death no hurt will the Deity proscribe for those in God’s presence.

Roman Emperor notwithstanding, Aurelius, you may not know, chose to remain with his Roman Legions north of Rome for much of his reign.  He did not, it seems, require fanfare or the luxury and entitlement that a Roman Emperor who remained in Rome would most surely receive.

I suppose he is not unlike many of us who live among the others with no special dispensation when it comes to life and its calamities.

Alas, we share no Rome but the visit of a deadly foreign virus – and it has shown its rathe and come close as it appears to claim its victims. In this it holds all in wait – paused and mindful of mortality and our death.  This far apart from normal distractions, work and routine chores which were for us “the coin of the realm” – day after day, week after week, month after month, year upon year.

No.  With the virus death draws nye.  In the social distancing we live an isolated life – one that stresses “I am here, and you are not.”  Now for each of us death is more the companion from the day rising to the eve retiring.

Perhaps it is a strange gift we have in this trouble we witness so near, in this wretch who takes the living ones from us.

The gift?  Simply this: in an otherwise affluent life where most things function as designed and days are full of plenty and others, and the minutes scoot by without notice – for in the singular viral silence each one of us death stands near.

Yes, In The Present Time of Virus … our mortality is evident and maybe, just maybe, this virus might beckon us to recalibrate the worth of mortal life, decide the issue of God or no God, as well – the prospect of life ever after.

Ah, would that be the case, for then our behavior might restore us to nature, and for all so much the better.

In the best of the Spirit and of faith I offer these two quotes to send you on your day:

”It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives.” Samuel Johnson

“All that live must die, Passing from nature to eternity.” William Shakespeare

Shalom.