These are some strange days we are living through right now. It seems as if the entire world has put up a big old “sorry we’re closed” sign! But that’s what happens when a previously unknown virus makes itself known by sickening and killing people all across the globe. It is no respecter of race or religion, age or status. Even as medical communities from every nation scramble to understand and contain it, the world is still closed for business.
I don’t know that there is any way to truly be ready for a world-wide pandemic. The scientists can test and estimate what might happen; the doctors can prepare for the supplies and personnel they think they’ll need, but really it’s all a big guessing game. The best we can do is follow the recommendations of those in the know, who I suspect, are way smarter than I.
We’ve coined some new phrases that we’ll probably be telling our great-grandchildren about and reading about in history for years to come. Phrases like “social distancing”, “self isolating”, “statewide lockdown”, “hunker down”, “flattening the curve” and of course “Corona Virus”.
In my state of California, we’re on a statewide stay-at-home order, basically a lockdown. All non-essential businesses are closed and no one is allowed to gather anywhere. Restaurants are open for take out or delivery only and grocery stores are open with limited hours and occupancy. Even all of our churches have gone to on-line services only. Since I’m at home like the rest of you, I’ve had lots of time to read and write and think. I’ve been thinking about the good and bad of all of this.
There is a lot of good that has come from quarantining at home with your immediate family. As I sit in my office and look out the window, I see families taking walks together up and down the street. It’s funny though, there’s only one family at a time. It’s as if everyone is in their front yards waiting for their turn to stroll the block and enjoy the sunshine!
Families are spending more time together because, for most of them, mom and dad are either working from home or on hiatus from their jobs and kids are home from school. They’ve grown closer; husbands and wives have a greater understanding of each other’s roles and kids are loving having time and attention from both parents.
One of the cool things happening in my community is a chalk messaging activity. As families walk the multiple trails and neighborhoods, they are writing words of encouragement in chalk on the sidewalks to be discovered by the next family that takes that particular trail. I love it! What a great way to teach our children how to care and show grace to others. And I have seen on social media that other neighborhoods are doing it as well!
Speaking of social media, there are stories posted everywhere of people singing and playing instruments from their balconies to entertain each other; there have been group exercise classes led from rooftops; people hanging out their windows banging on pots and pans to thank the first responders as they pass on their weary way to and from hospitals.
As I think of the positive things I can’t help but think about those that are not faring as well. I worry about those who are older and have no family to check in on them. I worry about the homeless and those that live alone. Social media is great for staying in contact, but what if no one is on the other end reaching out? What if we all get so used to this “new normal” that there are entire groups of people that are left behind?
The old adage of “out of sight, out of mind” was something that, in the corporate world, kept us all coming to work and meetings when we didn’t feel our best because we didn’t want to miss out on the next great assignment or project or, worse of all, be added to the list of names that are expendable because no one has seen you for a while. But that same adage can be even more disastrous on relationships if it’s allowed to continue even after the “all clear” has been called.
What if everyone got so comfortable with just their own small, immediate family unit that we get used to not reaching out to grandparents and great-grandparents? What would become of all the aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who live far away? Will we ever feel comfortable again visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes or prisons? And what about all the times in the past that we’ve met a perfect stranger who, over time, becomes a best friend? Will future generations miss out on that wonderful gift?
What I pray happens is that we all use this as a sort of “re-set” button on humanity. I’m hoping that people, all people, will use this time to reconnect with what’s really important and that there will be more grace and kindness in this world as a result.
I pray that we keep the good, the lessons we’ve learned, and embrace what we’ve missed. Things like holding doors open for others; giving a hug and holding on when someone really needs it. I pray that we remember to make the effort to travel and then linger with friends and family that live far away. I want us to be able to sit on the bed of someone sick, just holding their hand, without fear of a virus that may or may not infect those we love.
In the end, I know that this too shall pass. But I’m praying and hoping that none of us will ever take for granted the things we have and the relationships God has blessed each and every one of us with! I know that I never will! Love and blessings to you all, my friends!
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31