It has been a year of daily statistics. Every major news bulletin has begun with numbers, cases, positivity rates, hospital beds, ventilators, and sadly deaths. At last these daily statistics also include vaccine distribution and shots received. One amazing story of good fortune last week involved public health workers transporting vaccine but they got stuck due to a jackknifed tractor-trailer in Oregon. Rather than see the vaccine expire, they went car to car, in the midst of snow, offering the vaccine! Wonderful quick thinking for sure! Not sure how those vaccines will be tabulated in overall statistics.

Take a moment to enjoy the following poem from the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska in which she plays with statistics.

A Contribution to Statistics
English version by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak
Original Language Polish

Out of a hundred people
those who always know better
— fifty-two.
doubting every step
— nearly all the rest.
glad to lend a hand
if it doesn’t take too long
— as high as forty-nine.
always good
because they can’t be otherwise
— four, well maybe five.
able to admire without envy
— eighteen.
suffering illusions
induced by fleeting youth
— sixty, give or take a few.
not to be taken lightly
— forty and four.
living in constant fear
of someone or something
— seventy-seven.
capable of happiness
— twenty-something tops.
harmless singly, savage in crowds
— half at least.
when forced by circumstances
— better not to know
even ballpark figures,
wise after the fact
— just a couple more
than wise before it,
taking only things from life
— thirty
(I wish I were wrong).
hunched in pain,
no flashlight in the dark
— eighty-three
sooner or later.
— thirty-five, which is a lot,
and understanding
— three.
worthy of compassion
— ninety-nine.
— a hundred out of a hundred.
Thus far this figure still remains unchanged.

It reminds me of a story of a shepherd and 100 sheep. One went missing yet the shepherd does everything possible to find the lost one out of 100. The story ends well for both shepherd and sheep. I wonder how that sheep felt? I wonder how the shepherd felt? I wonder how you feel whether you counted yourself in the 99, or were counted by the shepherd as the one?

Lord God,
your Holy Word declares
that even the hairs of my head
are numbered.
Your love for me,
and for all people
is not numbered, counted, or weighed.
Your love
is beyond measure or time,
Your love
has no sense of past or future,
but always
Whether I stand amidst 99
or stand alone
Your love
embraces, welcomes,
restores and makes me new.

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