Money is now driving this pandemic. Economic reopening. Returning to normal. Getting a haircut, a coffee, a meal. Too many people have had “enough” of saving lives, enough of personal sacrifice. I know that many are without incomes, as are we, and many have lost much. I do sympathize. But saving lives is more important than anything. Without saving lives, the economy will still suffer. These have been our worries, not to mention my own co-morbidities that make resumption of normal life virtually impossible. But what is left behind when people rush back into contact in the MIDDLE of a raging pandemic is those people like me, who are not properly factored into the “advice,” being offered for mitigating (not eliminating) risk. It’s almost like a footnote: “Oh, and if you’re vulnerable, stay at home longer.” And those not so vulnerable need to pay attention to how their “health privilege” affects those left behind by them.
But something just as sinister and dangerous has raised its ugly head: the latent and ever-present white supremacy that erupts as racism (as in discrimination, denial of opportunity, and death) is burning through our country. George Floyd, an innocent black man who might have been a little inebriated one day, was murdered by at least three police offers in broad daylight with no crime committed, no warrant for arrest, no rights read….just murdered by a racist white cop with his knee on his neck. And the other cops also held him down until he died, right there. We need a systemic response, a deep and prolonged re-education, change of heart, concerted effort to re-imagine a new and better world that will not tolerate white supremacy any more. Until then, expect protest, and unfortunately the accompanying destruction.
It has been two month since we started “sheltering in place” or “hunkering down” or “quarantining,” or doing “safer at home.” I DO feel safer at home because the information about the disease changes so often as medical experts learn more about it and more new symptoms emerge, including the incredibly troubling Kawasaki-type symptoms in young children. Much of the country watches in horror as states under the Kool-aide spell of the Orange Menace open up in the name of mammon, to attempt to return to normal, even while making safety gestures, such as suggesting or requiring masks, minimal social distancing. Well, there’s FAR more to the transmission than just wearing masks, and far too many selfish Americans are choosing NOT to wear masks while going into large, possibly Covid-laden crowds. They think it’s their right to go out for dinner again. Why not? Well….think of it as attempted murder, because you can’t promise to remain Covid free or not to transmit it to someone who could die from it. It’s called loving your neighbor. Check it out in the Bible. It’s hard enough to love people under normal circumstances but at least we’ve been giving ONE do-able task: those who can stay home must stay home and the rest who are not essential workers need to limit their socializing and go only to work. Pritzker is making some exceptions for outdoor exercise not involving groups and requiring distancing. Two members of my family did that today. It was mostly a success but there are ALWAYS unpredictable “incidences” that bring people a tad too close for safety, for comfort. No matter how hard you try. That’s why it is SO important to try!!!
…in this coronavirus fight. Rump got rid of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a greatly respected immunologist and who is not in sync with Rump’s ideas about how to handle the response to the virus. Rump wants to get people back to work after 15 days of isolation and let whoever dies just die…the fittest will survive, create herd immunity, and carry on his precious economy and bolster his ego and he thinks, I’m sure, save the human race, which he hates with a passion. We are in trouble, folks. It will be hard to replace Fauci even if he wanted to. According to Rump’s plan, this is just another reason why someone like me is doomed under his plan. But no, I do not plan to be doomed….I hope to God this election goes forward and that this will be our moment to get rid of him.
Yesterday we heard word from our former church that a beloved member–someone we remember fondly as a friend–died from the coronavirus. Just knowing he is no longer with us is sad enough. To think of what this dear family had to endure over the past two weeks is horrifying. This is real. This isn’t pretend. We are in this together, and we must make these small personal “sacrifices” of self-isolation so that others may live.
Does the lid of my Starbucks mocha have the virus on it? How about the bags the food was delivered in today? Is it still on objects I had in my car the other day? How many things should we clean apart from knobs, pens, handles, etc.? Is it everywhere, waiting for a chance to attach itself to us? I’m watching Sky News (From Britain) as their weather globe turns and spins showing temperatures around the world. I can imagine another globe: one that shows the numbers of deaths from Covid-19. It’s incredibly sobering.
From a Facebook (and Wellington) friend, Kryss Chupp:
“A friend of mine from church sent this from an unknown source. I thought we could all use this hopeful reminder. When I shared it with my colleagues from Christian Peacemaker Teams, people added more things to the list.
Seems like a good practice…”
Conversations will not be cancelled.
Relationships will not be cancelled.
Love will not be cancelled.
Songs will not be cancelled.
Reading will not be cancelled.
Self-Care will not be cancelled.
Hope will not be cancelled.
Compassion and Kindness will not be cancelled.
Gratitude will not be cancelled.
Faith will not be cancelled.
Determination will not be cancelled.
Smiles will not be cancelled.
We’re now all on “shelter in place” as the Covid-19 virus spreads more rapidly though our city. Chicago still has the occasional tissues on the grocery store shelf, but not toilet paper. No paper towels to be found, but these are minor inconveniences.
There are so many people who have lost everything short of their lives, but that’s the sacrifice that is necessary so that they, and many others, don’t lose their lives.
As a pastor of a very small church where two of 12 don’t have e-mail or video capability, we won’t be broadcasting on Sunday, but we will check in on other churches on the growing list of life broadcast Sunday services. We are staying in touch by email and phone, still praying caring.
I’m enjoying a burst of activity from cousins in various places who are contributing to a further building and fleshing-out of our family trees as we collaborate in identifying mysterious but fascinating family photos! I’ve often asked myself why genealogy is interesting or even important. I truly believe that some of the strongest and most loving families can be, and often are, built from non-biological relationships.
But genealogy is a particular kind of connection that can open doors to relationship, connection, history, deeper understanding of the self and one’s origins. It’s amazing to me that a little bit of spit can be analyzed to the point that it, alone is able to connect you to people you know and don’t know.
You can see I’m not much of a blogger, or at least not right now. Being 60 years old and having two young children can significantly reduce one’s personal time. But I have made this blog about my calling and I must say that I still feel that same call to this work. This is sacred work and it is a special kind of midwifery that enters into the mystery of mortality and life’s temporality and the gift of faith.
When life is coming to an end, there is really only one thing to hold on to, I think. But I’ve never been there. It would have to be faith: faith in what is unseen and yet promised.
It means we must turn our face toward love: the love that brought us into the world and the love that brings us into its eternal embrace.
I continue to value and enjoy my work as a hospice chaplain. The organization I work for has admirable values and high standards. My co-workers are great, and I’m always touched by the way in which people invite me into their lives at such a tender moment.