I wrote at First Things on Kristen Lavransdatter as a primer for living a life of Christian service and witness in a pandemic. It was intended, among other things, as a rejoinder to the idea that sheltering in place was cowardice.
Someday when our children ask us “What did you do during the coronavirus pandemic?,” it won’t seem exciting to tell them, “I moved my book club to videochat.” It’s more exciting to imagine that the sacrifices asked of us will be dramatic and romantic.
But it’s no surprise to Christians that we should value the invisible economy of grace over more worldly signs of effort and accomplishment. We are a people who believe that cloistered sisters, praying privately, have a powerful effect on the world. We are a people who believe that prayer, fasting, and humiliation are as much a part of our response to a pandemic as work on antivirals.
Each of us does the work God has prepared for us. And at present, a number of people who are used to power and dramatic, visible forms of activity are being called unexpectedly to the cloister of the home. Nearly all of us are being called to the kind of patient, steady work (caring for children, bringing groceries to the elderly) that is rarely counted in visible measures like GDP.