I have lived almost half-a-century, and cannot remember a moment like these days that we are in. The fear, the uncertainty, the memes, the handwashing. Are anyone else’s hands starting to look shiny from all the scrubbing?
Lifetime habits have transformed overnight: opening doors (Tissue? Sleeve? Foot? Forearm?), greetings (Elbow bump? Fist kiss? Bow? Vulcan/Rabbinic salute?), responding without blessings to sneezes. And more than one Los Angeles friend is wondering if we will ever get to use those Hamilton tickets. . .
My friend, Betty, went last evening to the grocery store to try to find some vegetables. All of the fresh veggies were gone, and only one sad bag of frozen food was left–okra. Now that is a crisis. At least she missed the fist-fights at Costco.
What is going on here? Below are a few observations of humanity’s response to the Covid-19 crisis–some from watching you and some from watching myself. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some thoughts along the way. But please, read the whole post, K?
1. Humanity is not by nature kind and unselfish. Thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer scooped up by one guy? On-line price gouging on baby formula and diapers? Did I mention the fights at Costco? It does feel, like Bob Dylan sang, “Everything is broken.”
2. We want to blame someone. Life is uncomfortable and inconvenient, and for some, fatal. And it has to be someone’s fault–the President? The Mayor? Patient 31? God? The election cycle? We look so much like Adam and Eve here–He did this, she did that. We play right into the modern mantra, “I am a victim here.”
3. We want to be in control again–or at least to believe our illusion of control again. Nothing is normal. Classrooms, freeways, and shelves are all empty. This virus is unpredictable–we’ve never done this before, but we want it all to stop.
4. We miss each other–already. One Sunday away from church, two days away from the gym or coffee shop. One weekend of frantic shopping, navigating the aisles to avoid even eye contact with other foragers. This could be a long, lonely quarantine. And what is going to happen with all the yoga studios closed in LA County? Don’t we already have enough road rage?
5. Re–Refreshing the news feed does not provide stability. NPR, ABC, CBS, Fox, The Post, the Guardian, Google, Vox. A steady diet of pundits and press gaggles will not bring the peace we all want so desperately. So far, the best thing the news has produced to deal with Corona was this classy newspaper from Australia. Go ahead and click that. I guarantee it will make you smile. It is so ironic, it nearly wiped me out! Had me rolling.
If I stopped there, wow, let’s just go find the virus and be done with each other, right? But as Tevye would say, “On the other hand. . .” There is hope.
6. Covid 19 has slowed us all down. When was the last time your calendar was clear? I can’t think, actually. Let’s use the time well. Cancel Netflix, deep clean your kitchen, play board games with your family, go or a walk, take a load of your canned hoards to your local food pantry. I’m working on memorizing Romans 8, a task made much easier by discovering this album: Romans VIII by Immanuel Worship. I will also be hiking more often since the gym is closed, and I can’t row.
7. We need each other. Not just to fill out the signing on Sunday morning, or pick up groceries, or encourage the fainthearted. We need each other to proclaim the Gospel to a weary world. We were made to be together, to work together, to care for each other together. My friend Jonathan Holmes wrote, “Friendship has the power and ability to tell a story that demonstrates that God came to us in Christ to redeem us for Himself. ” (The Company We Keep, p. 24) How are we going to keep those friendships working in a time of social distance?
8. We want to help. Take a moment and think about the folks in your community who may need help–physical or emotional. You can find counseling resources to equip yourself and share with your friends here: Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and Biblical Counseling Coalition. Likewise, if you are are looking for a way to help with ministries that are on the front-lines providing food, perhaps consider a financial gift to Children’s Hunger Fund as we work with local churches around the world to bring hope and help, especially in this time of crisis. Finally, it has never been easier to “invite” someone to church. Hey neighbors, “join” me as we participate with Sunday services online.
8. We are capable of great courage and kindness. From the lady on my Next Door app offering filtered water to my twitter hero who gave up her last toilet paper to a family at her church. We are finding ways to care for each other more intentionally than we did a week ago. Humanity is still broken, but sometimes, through those cracks, something sparkles. And like Van Gogh’s wonder of the starry sky, it catches us by surprise. I can only believe that these sparks are evidence of the good and kind character of the One who made us. Left to ourselves, we hoard and fight and shove elderly women. Those little bits of light point to the one Redeemer who is good and who desires that all men come to know Him to be remade by Him!
What are some observations you have made? How are you going to use your time differently? Please feel free to share your observations and ideas in the comments below.
Blessings on your quarantine!