1. WE ARE EXPOSED BECAUSE WE ARE INTERCONNECTED.
This morning while I was pouring Coffeemate (peppermint mocha) into my cup of coffee, it suddenly occurred to me that I should probably wash my hands, because who knows if the person who put the bottle of Coffeemate into the Vons refrigerator has the virus and just doesn’t know it? I left my cup of coffee on the counter and washed my hands. When I came back to my coffee, I realized I hadn’t put away the bottle of Coffeemate. I told myself I should wash my hands again after putting it back into the fridge. But I didn’t. Because I should have wiped down all of the groceries I brought home yesterday before putting them away. But I didn’t. It isn’t possible to wash our hands enough. We are more interconnected than we think, and therefore more exposed than we think. I am connected to the person who stocked Coffeemate, sourdough bread, butter, onions, celery, cream, and canned clams (yes, clam chowder was dinner last night), and finally the check-out guy who bagged my groceries and handed me the bags. In one shopping trip, if it is true that viruses can live on the surfaces of grocery items, I was beautifully connected to at least ten people I never even saw personally. But I could have also been fatally infected by them. And then I expose my family to the viruses from the grocery store…Wow. We are unintentionally killing each other, because we are closer to each other than we think. The world is smaller than we think. It is so clear now that our lives are a worldwide web of interdependent industries—a body with many parts. Each part affects the whole.
2. WE ARE NOT CREATED TO BE ALONE.
Yesterday President Trump limited gatherings to ten people or less, in order to slow the spread of the virus. This morning my county is encouraging no gatherings at all of any size. It was hard enough to stand more than a handshake away from the person next to me. (I need my personal space, but not that much space.) Now I am trying to figure out how to host an online meeting for me and my kids to “see” our friends from inside our homes… People can only isolate for so long. That’s why prison cells are torturous. Even Tom Hanks, in the movie “Castaway,” resorted to drawing a face on a volleyball for companionship while he was stranded on an island alone.
3. WE TAKE “NORMAL LIFE” FOR GRANTED.
Just a few weeks ago I was having dinner with friends at a restaurant (shabu buffet). We chatted and laughed without a care about contamination. We ate as much as we wanted, yet barely made a dent in the buffet. This week that restaurant is closed and I am not going to get to hang out with those friends for a long time. I should have enjoyed that dinner more. I should have been more present. I should have hugged each friend before we got into our cars and left. Today, I am all here. This is my daily journaling time, to be fully awake and alive in the moment. Today I will enjoy my family and home life, even when we sin against each other. Today I will open my refrigerator and give thanks that I have food enough to share. Today I will not waste food; I will appreciate each bite. And I’ll encourage my children to do the same. I’ve told them many, many times not to waste food and to thank God for each meal, but today it will be different.
4. WE NEED HELP FROM OUTSIDE OURSELVES.
Like I said, we are accidentally infecting and killing each other. We cannot help each other without risk of exposure. It is so clear that we need to be rescued by a Savior from another world. A wise teacher once taught me, “A drowning man cannot save another drowning man. A third man must throw a rope to both from the riverbank.” That Man is one of us, but more than us. Thank you, Jesus!
5. WE HAVE THE GIFT OF TECHNOLOGY.
We will stay connected to each other during social separation. For all the pooh-poohing of technology I have done over the years that are my kids’ childhoods, I find myself thanking God for Zoom conferencing, live-streaming video, podcasts, texting, messaging, social media, and the good ol’ phone call. This Coronavirus pandemic is bringing out the best in technology—its ability to help us with interpersonal communication. Technology is an awesome servant in times like this. Tonight my family will be participating in a virtual prayer meeting using Zoom. How amazing is that? I can’t wait to see the faces of my brothers and sisters!
6. WE ARE THE CHURCH.
If not for the governmental enforcement of “social distancing,” how would we have learned–truly experienced–the truth that the Church is not a building, a service, a site? All those Sunday services in church have strengthened our souls for such a time as this. When we cannot be with God in a safe building, we will find Him with us in quarantine cruise ships, hotels, homes, and hospital rooms. The Coronavirus may be uncontained, scattered all over the world, BUT SO IS THE CHURCH. Church: Rise up! Love those around you. Contact two people today to ask if they are okay. Carry each other’s burdens. Share resources. Let us not forget the saints in history who voluntarily stayed in harm’s way when everybody else left, because to die is gain. Courage is acting despite the fear. Above all, let us PRAY. Let us pray for those on the front lines. May God bless them for blessing us in this unprecedented time of human history.