My son Michael had a dream the other night. He was driving his car, at quite a speed, only to discover he was driving backwards, in reverse. After slamming on the breaks a number of times, he realized he couldn’t stop the car. I get the feeling these days, don’t you? We’re driving backwards, out of control. It’s scary.

We turn to the charts and statistics only to find them confusing, at times conflicting, sometimes politicized, sometimes inaccurate by the next day. What are we do to when trusted models deceive us? As grateful as we are for the scientists and experts and leaders who are working so hard to help us flatten the curve, chaos often seems the order of the day. When will this thing be over?

Our writers have been telling this story for a long time, long before the pandemic. From his latest collection of poems, Christian Wiman seems knocked off stride by all the confusion around him.

All my friends are finding new beliefs.

This one converts to Catholicism and this one to trees.

In a highly literary and hitherto religiously indifferent Jew

God whomps on like a genetic generator.

Paleo, Keto, Zone, South Beach, Bourbon.

Exercise regimens so extreme she merges with machine.

One man marries a woman twenty years younger

and twice in one brunch uses the word verdant;

another’s brick-fisted belligerence gentles

into dementia. . . .

“I am finding it harder and harder to keep track,” Wiman ends wistfully, “of the new gods and the new loves, / and the old gods and the old loves . . . and the planet’s turning faster and faster in the blackness. . . .” We feel unsteady, uncertain, off-balance. Is anything normal anymore?

Then the big question arises for me: Is there anyplace where I can put my trust? In myself? Surely not there. In human abilities to protect us from all inevitable assaults? In our charts and graphs and models? Is there some authority out there in whom I might finally place my faith?

Faith? Well, faith is not easy in our time. Faith can no longer be some glib affirmation that this too shall pass. Faith has become hard work. It requires courage. Faith requires risk. It demands a choice.

In those famous lines from the book of Hebrews we hear that “faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see.” Realities we don’t see? That’s not a comfortable place for the modern mind to reside. The writer talks about “longing for a better country.” Where do we get such a vision of a better country?

I was struck by an anthem, sung by our church choir, actually weeks before the virus invaded our consciousness.

When all the notes of life are played,

When all our music fades away,

A bright new song the world will sing

In the presence of the King! . . . .

It feels like we’ve played out all the notes we have to play. And still all our music seems to fade away. But wait a minute, I think I hear the faint sound of a bright new song. Maybe it’s a music I haven’t listened for in a long time. I’ve got to be quiet. Listen. Maybe it’s the sound, as the hymn continues, of that “never-ending song” of God’s love?

On my daily walk yesterday, I was suddenly stunned by the beauty of a whole row of roses, some deep, deep red, others pure white, a few yellow as bright as the sun, and then a few utterly purple irises, flowers my neighbors had carefully planted and tended and surely loved. I had never seen them before.

Suddenly it was as if a song was breaking out! And I thought of the Psalmist who is astonished that the places where God has passes “drip with plenty.” Could it be if I listen carefully enough, that like the pastures and the meadows and the valleys, with “shouts of joy,” my world will “break into song”? Could it be that if I listen I will hear that never-ending song that God loves his world, and all his children, that God loves even me? Listen. Be quiet.

Where can I hear that song again? I don’t have easy answers here. I can only suggest turning to prayer. Becoming silent in order to welcome God into our little space. Reading the Psalms and all of Scripture. These are the ancient practices we have adopted over the centuries. But then just look along the sidewalk. And listen for the music. Just maybe we will hear that new song again. It takes faith. It takes courage. But it’s there. Isn’t it? Be quiet. Listen.