I was tempted not to mention anything about COVID-19 in this editor’s note. Over the past month I’ve heard the phrase “uncertain times” more often than I can count, and sometimes we all need a break from the news and daily reminders that the world is falling apart in one way or another. This time of social-distancing and self-quarantining has been a breeding ground for worry, fear, depression, and anxiety as many of us face difficulties and significant life changes.
But, then I remembered we also need to be reminded of the unexpected blessings. Many meaningless distractions have been removed. Time has slowed down as many activities have been put on hold. Families are forced to draw closer together. We’re yearning for the freedoms and relationships we often took for granted. We all appreciate toilet paper and hand sanitizer a lot more.
In all seriousness, this time has caused many to think about life in ways they may not have otherwise. Namely, is there a God? And if there is, what does all this mean?
Another question that I encourage you, the reader, to ask yourself during this time of reflection is: what about Jesus? Who is He? What is it about Jesus?
Though you won’t receive a direct answer about the character of Jesus here (I recommend reading the New Testament for that), you will find a space that explores the emotions, doubts, and certainties surrounding Christ. Maybe you’ve felt that Christianity doesn’t call to you, or that it doesn’t fit who you are. That you feel more alive in rejecting Christ than accepting Him (see Hannah Melin’s nonfiction story “My Ancestors Must Have Been Beasts”). Maybe Christianity feels like something foul, and foreign. Something that rubs against the grain of everything you know about life (check out DT Richards’s “It’s Only a Second You’re Down”). Maybe it makes you nostalgic for stain glass, for rosaries, for Mary, for a mother figure instead of a supposed all-knowing Father. Maybe Christianity makes you think of your upbringing, of youth groups and church camp and a simpler time before life became complicated (read Diane Vogel Ferri’s nonfiction piece “Come By Here”). Maybe it seems like a beautiful lie, symbolizing some unnamed goodness in the background to guard your mind when encountering the evil, death, and meaninglessness of the world.
And maybe, just maybe, Christianity to you means truth. A light in the fog. Something clear, crisp, and more real than the real world. A life-changing, soul-altering reality that makes everything around you more alive. As a former Catholic (who still has a love for Catholics) turned atheist, turned agnostic, turned born-again, burning-heart Christian, I am fascinated by the way Jesus interacts with and influences the secular world. As a literature lover, I have a passion for reading the struggle and discovery between God and man through poetry, prose, and art. That’s why Heart of Flesh exists and it’s why I am thankful for the different voices and perspectives of the wonderful contributors (both believers and non-believers) of our third issue.
I will end this note by saying I pray that this issue sparks something in you. I hope that it plants a seed in your heart, or creates a yearning for the one that lingers in the background waiting for you to discover Him. And if to you these times seems painfully uncertain, I leave you with one certainty, one of God’s promises, first given to the Israelites, but then placed in the hearts of those adopted into the family of God:
“fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right
hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
God bless you, and I hope you enjoy the third issue of Heart of Flesh.
Veronica McDonald is a writer, poet, artist, and editor/founder of Heart of Flesh Literary Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lost Pen Magazine, Inwood Indiana Press, Jersey Devil Press, Five on the Fifth, and Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, among others. She became a born-again Christian in July 2016 when Jesus saved her from anxiety, depression, and a nihilistic worldview. Learn more about her work at VeronicaMcDonald.com.