COVID-19 was a stranger until this evening.  One friend told me today that he lost a brother.  Another friend lost his best friend.  Both died of COVID-19.  Within a month, we will all know someone by name who has been infected, hospitalized, and died from it. Each day we continue to lose 800 plus to this pandemic. 

We live, talk, walk, and think like we will live forever.  There is a lot of bravado.  One person put it this way, “Put on your big boy pants and let’s go back to work.  Isolate those that are vulnerable.  For the rest of us, suck it up, get a little sick, you will get better.” 

Death is as near as your closest friend or spouse, son or daughter.  I can’t believe that we have not already been exposed.  I noticed that almost half the people I saw in Meijer are now wearing a mask. Some of my friends truly imprison themselves in their homes, total isolation.  I told Jan that I was so glad we are in our own home.  I can go and hike four to six miles a day.  Another friend just sent us some face masks.  Periodically over the last couple weeks it occurred to me that I might be gone within the next ten days or so. 

It seems to me that objective news is becoming increasingly rare. Each news show has their esteemed educated experts and pundits.  Not much news, but a lot of opinions.  It is a crazy cycle of repetitive experts talking past each other.  Do you notice how questions are asked?  It is often not about information but rather seeking an opinion, a reaction, or creating a conflict that will turn into another titillating item.  I am getting tired of it.  Some days I just shut it off.

I am rather disappointed in myself.  I miss the structure, routine, and demands of ordinariness.  I would think I would relish the freedom and opportunity to stay home for a month and catch up on all kinds of activities.  Instead I find myself staying up late, getting up later, taking a nap in the afternoon, and eating lunch mid-afternoon.  Sometimes I find myself just sitting in a chair…doing nothing.  It is weird, wonderful, and frustrating all in one day.  I am much more efficient and productive when in a demanding environment.  Why is that?

We are social beings, created for community, seeking intimacy.  We are better and stronger when connected. There are two reasons I write this reflection.  The first is to discover for myself what I really think and feel.  It is easy to post on Facebook, easier still, to respond in anger or support, without really understanding the nuances, complexities, contradictions, trade-offs inherent in this pandemic.  “Lou, what does your mind say to your heart?  What is your heart saying to your mind? What is God saying to me?”

The second reason I write this reflection is because I need connection. I really miss ROMEO, the Book Club, my one on ones (you know who you are), our Church discussion group, our Business Connections, friends and family.  When you respond, some of you with length, others with a smiley, or a couple comments, it communicates authentic connection.  It says nothing about what we have done for or with each other, but it says everything about who you and I are in relationship.  That is priceless.

There are so many verses I could quote that can and should give us great encouragement.  I am reading this one to myself right now: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4.  I am thinking most about those who are alone and sick, little to no income, and have few options. Time to get my “Big boy pants on,” stop complaining, stop posting, stop criticizing, AND go and do something for someone else!

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