A new year normally brings with it hope and an- ticipation. 2021, especially, brings with it the hope of the dawn of a new day, or rather a hope for a return to some sense of normalcy. A couple of thoughts for the New Year.
First, one cannot help but be hopeful for the promise of a new vaccine to eradicate the scourge of Covid-19. If you have read any- thing at all about the vaccine’s inception, you would be amazed at the science, tech- nology and cleverness of the whole process. The vaccine is based on mRNA or messenger RNA. Normally the vaccine process would intro- duce a bit of the virus into the system so that the immune system would react and defeat the virus. The concept of vaccines was actually introduced to the Americas by African slaves. They had been inoculated against smallpox by taking some of the material from smallpox victims and introducing a small amount into the bloodstream of a healthy person. The person would get sick, but the im- mune system would then kick in. It was Cotton Mather who learned that trick from his slave, Onesimus. (Check out the Biblical reference in the letter of Paul to Philemon) Many of the early colonists were aghast at the process, but it worked to quell a smallpox outbreak in Boston in the early 1700’s. mRNA, does not work that way. Instead of intro- ducing a bit of Covid-19 into our systems, (and this will be simplistic and possibly wrong) mRNA simply activates the immune system to fight off the virus. It skips the infection part and goes right to the activation. It is an amazing thing. I am sure we have parishioners who could explain this way better than I just did. But the intro- duction of vaccines to fight this plague is a good and hopeful start to 2021.
Second, I hope that over the next few weeks you take some time to reflect on what we have been through since March. This disruption in our lives has hopefully changed some of our perspectives. One change in our perception has to be how interconnected we are. At first, we may have felt perturbed about having to wear a mask, and hand sanitizing and social distancing. I miss high five, handshakes and the occasional hug. (I also miss going to the theatre and ballgames. I also miss traveling!) But we soon realized that we are all in this together and that even one indi- vidual who is not with the program can do serious damage. Take some time this month to reflect on this.
Finally, I think this is a great opportunity to make a change, a resolution. But, here is the key: DO ONE THING AND MAKE IT A SMALL CHANGE. Make it a change that is observa- ble, measurable and includes other people in the process. Four and half years ago, I bought an Apple Watch and it has changed my habits of exercise. It can happen. But start small.
Have a great 2021!