In One Another's Embrace
Last week, our days and our calendars were full of routine activities and upcoming events as signs of spring began to come forth. Campuses and school grounds swarmed with students and staff. Artists were creating theatrical and musical presentations. Athletes were preparing for upcoming competitions.
This week, places of worship, libraries, schools, halls, ballrooms, auditoriums, theaters, and many workplaces will remain empty and quiet. Artists and athletes are disappointed or devastated after winning roles and rehearsing for plays, preparing for dance and musical recitals and programs, and practicing for games that will not take place. College semesters have been cut short and taken online. Workers are working from home. People fear for businesses and finances and for the economy. Uncertainly sends people to stores to panic buy toilet paper, disinfectant, staples, and canned goods. The stock market suffers. But worse, we fear for loved ones and for all our fellow beings most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought nations to a near-halt and that overwhelms resources in Italy.
We face frightening predictions, and we worry about our most vulnerable loved ones, parents or grandparents and those with medical conditions or weak immunity. We are glad to do our part to protect them and all our fellow Americans, disappointed as we are over lost opportunities and plans. We hunker down. We try to remember not to touch our faces. We wipe down everything. We listen for news. We pray for success, for those on the front lines of a battle against an invisible enemy, for victims of sickness, for caregivers, for those whose futures are damaged or uncertain. Being Part of the Solution It is our choice in trying or unusual times to be part of the solution to problems, to seek opportunities to serve, and to learn from our experience. Many turn to God and to one another. We find the better angels of our nature to work together for common goals and to keep faith that we can overcome what we face. America has faced many overwhelming trials, and the world has faced many trials before. We face medical, economic, and other challenges now. Even as we mourn the loss of life around the world from a new affliction, it's our job to avoid our worst case medical scenarios and to recover from our economic disruption. Making the Most of Opportunity We have an opportunity to learn from our experience with a pandemic. We will learn about a particular germ but also about how to best react to a threat of its kind in the modern world. We are finding weaknesses, and we can see where we can improve and plan for future events. A future epidemic or pandemic may be more deadly than this one, may have a higher death rate or be even more contagious. A future microscopic threat may target younger age groups, much as we hope and pray that doesn't happen.
This time, we are dealing with a disease from which most recover fully and that largely spares the young and healthy, and we can be grateful for that. We can strive to be more prepared for future "what ifs." Someday, we may be grateful in some ways for this experience if we are able to avoid future disasters, learning from today's successes and mistakes. Individuals and families can assess what we need to do to be better prepared for emergencies or unique situations. A little thought and effort to have some extra supplies and food and water for emergencies when possible is a responsible move. The fewer people on panic runs for toilet paper, the better. We can help lessen that strain on the community, avoid contagion or spreading contagion, and leave more of what's on shelves for others. And we'll have the peace of mind of knowing we have some provisions in case we can't get to sources of new supplies because of the situation itself or our personal situations. I predict that we will be creative. People will find new ways to do things. Some businesses will find new ways to work with employees from homes. Some will actually benefit from people being stuck mostly at home, but others will adapt to a new situation and will fill needs in the new environment. Looking out for One Another While keeping our physical distance from all but a few people, people will take advantage of ways to connect and will reach out to other people. We will take care of the vulnerable among us, helping our elderly friends and neighbors who are most at risk. Our energy company has promised not to cut off power to customers who can't pay right now. A bank informs us that they want to work with customers and will waive interest fees for now. The physical therapist is waiving cancellation fees so that sick patients will be free to reschedule.
We're going to need to do those kinds of things, all of us thinking about what we can do to help another and doing our own part, even if it's just staying home and calling to check on the friend who lives alone and may be lonely or the neighbor who may need some help.
Appreciating Home For the introverts in our mist, a world without social obligations may be attractive. But the more social or the over-scheduled may appreciate some extra time with family. For one worker, working from home may be a nice change. Some school children may enjoy their "Coronacation." Some people may get and appreciate a break from the alarm clock, some a break from the rush, some the chance to clean their homes, work in the yard, read some books, watch some movies, call a friend, or finally get some time for a hobby or unfinished project. We are blessed to be able to communicate with people from whom we are physically separated in ways unavailable not all that long ago. For families, there is a chance for some family time. There is for many families time to play board games and watch movies and make pancakes for breakfast. I love when there is time for long conversations about just anything, the kind that just spring up. Sometimes it's good to not have to worry about the clock very much. Looking Forward to Normal Our fears and uncertainty are real, and we will make some mistakes trying to navigate our course. We are trying to react appropriately to and be proactive in a serious situation while understanding the costs of our efforts. We deal with the disappointment of some dashed dreams of things that aren't happening, things into which we put heart and soul. We hope against hope that things will be okay somehow, that we will avoid the worst possibilities and spring back or claw our way back from the damage being sustained to businesses and jobs and to the health of the economy. We'd rather be going on planned trips, gathering for events, and living life the way it was supposed to be before we were all sent home to hide from germs. But we can make the most of our opportunities to enjoy home and, if we are so blessed, family. Things will return to normal or closer to normal or to a new normal, and we can, I hope, take satisfaction in having beaten back a threat to our population. I hope we will have the satisfaction of knowing we did our best to protect the most vulnerable of various ages in our midst, and that we protected best we could the parents who have loved and raised us and our generation.
I hope we'll better appreciate the blessing of being able to gather to worship, to celebrate, to commemorate, to learn, to compete, to experience the arts, and to do all the things we love to do together. I hope we will be able to again appreciate the joy of coming together. In the meantime, I hope we embrace one another in love, looking forward to a day when we can all once again physically embrace one another freely in all the places that now stand empty. Part of life is challenges we'd rather not face, and we want to embrace life and one another fully.