Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Reawakening

During a time of sickness, hospitalizations, death and fear of illness, the long winter was like a gloomy house guest who had moved in for good.

But spring is here, nature is reawakening, and so, too, are many of us, eager for a time beyond the pandemic, which changed everything.

We often forget that spring is, among other things, the season that requires patience to appreciate. If summer is the season of freedom, autumn the time of reflection, and winter a time to hunker down and count our blessings, then spring is the season of possibility.

The springtime moveable feasts of the two great western religions, Easter and Passover arrived. One commemorates resurrection and renewal; the other celebrates the principle of forging ahead into freedom through the powers of community, faith and justice. These concepts are so deep within most of us that we can’t give words to them, but they are present in our appreciation of the changing seasonal light and trees in bud. This spring, however, we don’t have to strain to be fully conscious of those principles of community, resurrection and renewal.

We hope it won’t be forgotten what our country has suffered. More Americans died in the past 12 months from COVID-19 than all U.S. combat deaths in World War I, World War II and Vietnam combined.

Our leaders aren’t waiting for flower beds to fully bloom. President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is designed to provide massive amounts of financial relief to businesses, individuals and families. Some $30 billion of that is earmarked for independent restaurants — the kind we have on Shelter Island and the East End, which, along with other areas of the hospitality industry, have suffered greatly during the last 12 months.

In addition to help for ailing businesses, residents have received (or soon will) a $1,400 stimulus check that will make a tangible improvement in their lives and the overall wellbeing of our region as those dollars are spent locally.

With the passage of President Biden’s program, and with the acceleration of vaccine distribution now ongoing, there is hope, a scarce commodity for many just a few months ago. The whole country feels it, from the top where the president doesn’t name call and preach division, but calls for unity. And closer to home, we see our local government working to bring health — physically and socially — along with a commitment to each other.

Hebrew scholars have identified three things, among others, that keep civilization progressing — truth, justice and peace, with the latter seeming to take the top spot in affording us the possibility of becoming better.

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, asked us to remember that “blessed are the peacemakers.” This spring, no matter our religion, or if we have none, we should take comfort in what we hold dear, whom we love, and hope for peace in our community, in our country and within ourselves