Pandemic Plans: Keep on Coping
We have been battling COVID-19 for a year. 2020 already stands unique in the annals of our memories. And 2021 seems to continue the trend. Hospitals, schools, universities, churches, stores, restaurants … no destination or gathering place has been immune to the dangerous vagaries of this microscopic virus. Through fits and starts, small successes and significant failures, we have learned to cope. We continue to experiment with ideas and best practices. Yet all the while, we wander through a minefield of potential dangers that could rob us of a friend or family member.
An increasing percentage of us know someone who got infected, who was sick or who has died. Emotionally, this virus has been almost as virulent. Coping mechanisms found adequate for some fail spectacularly for others. Isolation, loneliness, parents overwhelmed, healthcare workers long past endurance, and so many of the rest of us unsure what new problem will put us over the edge.
In my sermons each week, I find myself inevitably saying: “These are difficult days.” Or “Life is hard.” Or “We are exhausted.” Seminary never trained us to cope with a pandemic, much less a bizarre confluence of public health, macro-economic, racial justice and socio-emotional crises. But I’ve been so thankful for so many of you, step by step, day by day creatively helping others of us rise up from our weariness.
During this hard year, while social distancing and mask wearing, you have lifted the spirits of those around you. And while you have helped one another, you have also helped me. I continue to be inspired by your patient, intentional loving.
Thankfully, too, the Bible tells the truth. Consistently, our scriptures recall spiritual ancestors who have preceded us. We are not the first, nor will we be the last to endure unpredictable times. Repeatedly throughout the Bible, we hear the words: “Fear not, I am with you …” and “Do not be afraid.” And we remember the context: dark days of desperation culminating in a crucifixion that shattered every hope.
This time of Lent reminds us of good company. Preceded by ordinary people coping with extraordinary grace, we continue to be surrounded by heroes. Brave, conscientious helpers who maintain our food supply, fill our health care needs, teach our children, care for our Senior Adults, repair our vehicles, farm our fields, stock our groceries and serve our meals. This list is almost endless. Often at risk themselves, they allow our lives to have at least some modicum of the ordinary.
Through these everyday workers and friends we see through a mirror darkly, but catch occasional shining glimpses of wonder. Ordinary people still operating with courage, and sometimes even humor.
Today it is them; tomorrow it might be you. For me, it already is; and you already are. Thank you. Bless you. And keep up the good work through these strange pandemic days. Easter is coming.
PRAY WITH ME:
Help us during this month of March, O God. Give us the wisdom to live with present hope and eternal expectation. May we embrace the wonder of our daily experiences, our everyday relationships, our casual encounters, unexpected flavors, surprising aromas or ordinary sights. Awaken us to the reality of your presence in all these and more. And this month leading us to Easter, Lord, make us keenly aware of our participation in your abundant life, now – and forever. Amen.
With much love, deep gratitude, and expectant hope,