As I am getting notices of blogs, and as I am looking over my social media, one thing is prevalent — talking about COVID19, Corona Virus, Pandemic, Sheltering-In-Place, Quarantining. Oh my goodness, what will we talk about when this is over? Do we even remember what we talked about before the middle of March?
These weeks have been a blur. I have to look at a calendar to remember how long it has been. I remember when we were first told to shelter-in-place, especially those over 65 or those with underlying medical issues. Well, I am 71 years old. I never thought of myself as old, or as vulnerable, and now my outlook seems to gone down some. I am those old people of whom others are referring. Do you know how weird that sounds to me? Probably not, unless you are also over 65, and especially in your 70’s. I always say that I was young until one day I wasn’t. Thanks to this pandemic, the world has reminded me that I am not young. That is the downside for me of this pandemic. I agree, I am grateful that this is my downside, because far too many people have had a much different downside, like being ill, losing loved ones, losing jobs, living alone and dealing with loneliness, having to figure out how to teach your child at home (which was why you chose not to home school in the first place).
A few days ago a 12 year old who lives near our home in Missouri, has passed away from a brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG), which is all for a fancy word for a malignant tumor at the brain stem. Look it up — I had to. The prognosis for this type of cancer is very bleak. I have been following Wyatt’s support Facebook page since it was established, which I think has only been a little over a year ago. I tried to check that but there are so many postings on it, that it would take hours to scroll through them to find the first posting. I think it was February of 2019. His death hit me hard for a few reasons. The first being, of course, it seems so sad that a young person (or any person) has to struggle with disease and pass away. I also got to know this child through these postings. His mom is very a good friend with my friend and audiologist, Amy. My friend and next door neighbor in Missouri, Cassie, lost her son, Sam, at age six from cancer. She and her husband are the founders of the Super Sam Foundation, which is a non-profit that supports the fight of childhood cancer, and also provides comfort packs for the child, the siblings, and parents (a wish that Sam had for “all the kids”). They also fund childhood cancer research. I have been supporting that organization since its beginning, and they have been in there with this struggle for Wyatt. I was so sad that Wyatt’s parents cannot get together with family and friends to grieve the loss of their beloved son, and get strength to help their other son deal with this tragedy. Social distancing stinks at a time like this.
Gatherings of all types are shut down. Churches are finding new ways to minister and connect virtually. Last night I was on a Zoom meeting with the pastors of our church in Missouri as they shared the new ways they are connecting and the work it takes. This church has three services on Sunday, the auditorium holds 1,500 people, and sometimes they have to use overflow rooms to stream the service because more than 1,500 have shown up. They have been streaming their services online since I have been attending which has been almost 7 years. Now, they say, they have gotten more sophisticated in how they do the streaming. They realized that when previously streaming the live services you could see the stage and the congregation, and it felt like you were there, but now it’s a big empty room. They are using less people on their musical team during to conform to social distancing. So not to get the stage to look overwhelming, they actually use effects to lessen the look of spaciousness. They also set up a flat screen television next to where the pastor gives his sermon, not using the giant screens on each side of the auditorium. This they claim also made the feeling of being in the room with them and not overwhelmingly empty. I realized as they shared this, that when I streamed their services, it felt so close to home, so to speak, than the services streamed at our smaller church in Arizona which looks less comfortable, making myself more easily distracted. The most interesting part was that their music is not being streamed from the speakers in the auditorium but directly to the sound boards which is streaming with the video, so the sound quality it amazing. Good for them to have the talent and ability to make these changes to help us feel as connected as we can in this tough time.
I really hope my pandemic blogs are nearing an end. I see there is a small light at the end of the tunnel as businesses are starting come up with a way to reopen.
Large venues will have a struggle with this as social distancing is still being recommended. In fact, in this church meeting, the pastors commented that they are working on how they will be able to open if social distancing is still required. Remember I said their auditorium holds 1,500 people in theater seating—can’t move those seats around. When will we see professional baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and other sports? When will your kids get to play contact sports again?
There are a lot of questions. No one has all the answers. This is new to everyone. This is a major reason why I don’t criticize any of the politicians, scientists, business owners, schools, entertainment venues, etc., working on the solutions. Everyone is doing their best job for what they know. It is confusing, and they are trying to keep us protected, and yet give us the freedoms we so love and desire.
We will come out of this, just like the world has come out of these plagues since the days of the Israelites in the Old Testament, to the black plague in the 16th century, and to the Spanish Flu last century. We need to remember the lessons that we are being taught. We need to remember that while we are in crisis and as we call out to God, not to forget to call out to him also in good times. Most of all, right now, just count your blessings—there are many good things that are happening—from people generously making face masks, providing food, or just something as simple as eating with your family without having to rush out the door for another meeting or sports practice. It is all good. We are survivors!
Next week my friend John O’Leary’s book, In Awe, will be released. John was burned 99% of his body at age 9, and he was not expected to live through the night. His story is shared in his book, On Fire, and also talked about in this new book. This new book has perfect timing. It is about how we find awe and joy in living when things around us are tough. We as adults get so wrapped up in our careers and other responsibilities that many times we lose the joy of life that we had as a child. Let’s not forget that there is still joy, peace, and contentment to be found even during scary times.