Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A Light at the End of the Virus Tunnel

 I don't know how often I am hearing or reading that expression in relation to the vaccine for the virus. People receiving the first vaccine have been saying it as well as others in health care and politics. 

In 1955 while in my last year of seminary at Alexandria, VA, I said it and my fellow classmates said it. We had heard it from those who graduated before us. The first year of seminary you entered the tunnel, the second year was the darkest, where am I and what am I doing here?. And during the third and last year one began to see a light at the end of the tunnel and then graduation into the full light of day.

I am sure this metaphor has been moved to countless places. You can add your own observations and story.

The pandemic complicates the expression. While the vaccine my be the light at the end of the tunnel the virus competes by providing the greatest number of new infections, over loaded hospitals and exhausted medical caregivers, and a rising number of deaths in nursing homes and among the poor. We have not had the cooperation of some people to wear masks, keep the distance, and wash their hands. The coming together of families over Thanksgiving is now showing up as more people come down with the virus illness. Christmas and other religious gatherings are ahead of us. What will we experience before the light is the light. I have heard it said the night is darkest before the dawn. True or false. In our experience with the virus it may be true. 

We have a language that provides metaphorical short cuts. You move a word or expression to a new place to communicate a lot of meaning by piggy backing when you move the expression or word to a new place. We are image makers.

Close off for now as I start collecting. Now adding on the 25th of December with people traveling and families gathering. Not here. We are celebrating separately while keeping in contact texting, iPhone, and Zoom on Sunday. 

The light at the end of the tunnel disappeared fast as a popular metaphor only to be replaced by the word hope. Hope is the big word this Christmas. You can find the word countless places. I will not try to name them. 

The most unique was the Doctor and Genesis Medical in Davenport who started dancing after he received he shot. I had to look up the words to a folk hymn, The Lord of the Dance. I heard the author sing the song in a folk song gathering. He is an English Quaker. Those interested can find the words by engaging the internet that has more information that the Public Library.

The light at the end of the tunnel and hope seems to have skeptics with reservations to taking the vaccine. I will be ready myself and so will my wife who is a nurse. She is critical of the pictures showing nurses giving the shot to special people.  They are doing it wrong. I have received instructions for doing it the right way. So far she hasn't seen anyone doing it right and since she is a ob/gyn nurse she knows how important the right was is for babies. I will try to arrange to have her give me the vaccine shot the right way.

I haven't seen this metaphorical expression but there is the term "a shot in the arm."


Marlin Whitmer, retired hospital chaplain

Founder of the Befrienders and the art of story metaphor listening.

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