Possibly like a lot of you, I’m working on finding the good in the midst of so much bad in the world right now.
We are living in a time that only a week ago we might have called surreal. We are all pretty much confined to quarters with the directive to practice “social distancing.” Just last Monday Tom and I went to lunch at our favorite spot – we figured it’s small, and we’ve been there so much that we already have shared whatever germs might be floating in the air there.
But since then, I’ve been to the grocery store, and that’s it.
Well, I did go to a meeting of our church session last week, because we needed to decide our church’s official response to what was happening. Oh, lest you worry, we definitely stayed the prescribed distance apart. And like pretty much all other churches in the area, we decided not to gather at the church for the foreseeable future. It was easy for us, because we have been streaming services live on the internet for the last four years. In the era of technology we live in, I learned that only one person in our entire church does not use email. As someone who remembers when the internet didn’t exist, I was somewhat amazed. However, that does mean in a time of isolation we all have some means of contacting the outside world without putting ourselves or anyone else in jeopardy.
While I sit at home, I have to thank my children for dragging me into the world of texting long before most people really knew what texting was. I remember when my girls were just finishing college that I had to cut one of them off from texting, because in those days you got 50 texts with the cellphone plan that we had, and after that the cost was exorbitant. I recall commenting to one kid that I really didn’t understand sitting in adjoining rooms and texting your roommate instead of walking 15 feet to converse face-to-face. Now I can appreciate the fact that I’m very comfortable texting – my kids will respond to a text right away; they may not answer the phone, however. Of course, I’ll admit that I have always marveled at my kids’ ability to text with their thumbs, even when they only had a number pad and not a keyboard. I confess that I will never be able to text with my thumbs. It’s just not going to happen.
So I’m working hard at communicating with the outside world without being with the outside world physically.
I noticed an article in Sunday’s paper explaining why the paper is so small. I’ve wondered how you report the news when nothing is happening. There are no meetings, no church events, no parties, no sports and, perhaps most important to The Star, no school. Except for reporting the latest on how everyone is coping with the threat of COVID-19, there’s not much else to say.
As a result, we are all having to find ways to stay in touch with family and friends. While I’ve severely limited my exposure, I definitely don’t want to be responsible for unknowingly exposing someone to a virus that may kill them.
Just this week, the concern became somewhat real to me. Daughter Liz has a friend whose dad is in the hospital with COVID-19. The problem is not just the virus but that he’s living with COPD – in fact, he always has some symptoms of bronchitis with his chronic ailment, so he didn’t realize at first that he had other problems.
At the same time, Tom’s dad, who is nearly 96, fell and broke six ribs. As some of you may recall, he has been in assisted living for about 6 months. The facility responded to the concerns with the virus quickly. They have self-quarantined, so to speak, by not allowing outsiders in at the moment and serving meals in the residents’ rooms to minimize contact. I was just feeling comfortable with all that, when Tom’s dad fell and had to be transported to the hospital. All I could think of was that the hospital is probably the last place a 95-year-old ought to be right now.
And I’ve worried about all those people who have life-changing events planned or thrust upon them – a friend with a grandchild born last week whom she has yet to see, folks in the middle of wedding plans during this crisis, or those who’ve had a family member die in the last week. If you’ve read obituaries lately, you’ll notice a huge increase in “services will be private.” After all, what else can they do right now?
Then there are my grandchildren. Grandson Thomas started the “isolation” with the flu – not COVID-19, but the “regular” flu. Most of my seven grandkids are in public school, so we, like everyone else, worry about what will happen to this school year – especially when so many experts are reminding us that this is an extremely scary time for a lot of kids, and math is the last thing they need to be worried about. And that doesn’t even touch the problem of parents who have had homeschooling thrust upon them. Tom asked our granddaughter Payton how she liked her new teacher (her mom, of course), and her response was an emphatic, “She’s mean.”
And on top of that, I have two in-laws in healthcare. Daughter-in-law Joy is a nurse practitioner at a minute clinic, so she lives in fear of being exposed and bringing the virus home. At the same time my son-in-law Vince is a VP in a company that keeps hospitals clean. Many of his employees are single parents who have few options when school is out. As a result, he’s spending more time in the hospitals than he usually does. So I can worry about the risk there. Both have taken to stripping at the door and showering immediately.
I’m reminded of long-ago Aiken County councilman Gene Duckett. He was often the person on County Council to raise the hard questions and to be the naysayer when something seemed risky for his constituents. Someone on Council would regularly say, “Don’t worry, Gene, be happy.” Eventually a family member gave him a T-shirt that said, “I do worry, and I’m not happy.”
In the middle of all this, I could be that person. It would be so easy to fret all the time.
But I watched our live-streamed church service on Sunday. The sermon was entitled “about tomorrow.” It was taken from a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 6:27 says, “And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life.” Pastor Brian (Coulter) reminded us that there are things that are in our power to do, but there are also things we can and should leave in God’s hands. From this I realized that I can keep in touch with the people I care about; I can check on folks who might need help during this time; I can do some things I haven’t been willing to take the time to do until now; I can keep up with my spiritual life through online classes – our church has several – through videos, devotionals, reading the Bible, etc.
But I can’t fix this on my own. After we have all done what is in our power to do, I have to leave the future in God’s hands.
So I’m trying my best not to worry and to be happy.
How about you?