Feeling the COVID Blues?
It's been more than six months since we first began to feel the impact of the current coronavirus pandemic. I remember back in early April many of us hoped that by summer this would be over or at least we would see a decline. The fact is, here in Michigan, but early June our numbers were averaging around 100 or fewer cases per day. Here in Troy, there were hardly any cases (just 2 recent cases in my zip code). Then we began to open up, and people decided to enjoy summer by flouting the rules. Now, Michigan is averaging between 700 and 1000 cases per day. It's not as bad as in April, especially in relationship to the number of deaths---and some of this increase in numbers is due to increased testing (our percentage of positive cases runs between 3 and 3.5%, which is below the national average above 5% of cases---when you're above 5, that's not good)---nevertheless, we're far from out of the woods.
Now, we're in October. The national election is less than a month away (I voted!), and the pandemic remains atop the concerns. The problem is that not everyone is taking this seriously. The President came down with the virus, along with a number of his aids, his wife, and others. He went to the hospital, and for a moment demonstrated what appeared to be a bit of humility. Then, things changed. He began to feel better and his tune changed. Now, this virus that has killed over 200,000 people and has infected over seven million Americans, is nothing to worry about. He's back to comparing it to the flu, except the flu doesn't have a kill rate like this nor the same level of infectiousness. That the President has access to the best care and medications not available to the rest of us, should call into question his bragging about leading on the virus.
Getting to the more personal, I was in a meeting on Zoom the other day with clergy. We were sharing our situations. It's clear we're all feeling it. Ministry isn't the same. Church isn't the same. We're trying hard to make things work, but it's not easy. Now, less than two months until Advent arrives, we're dealing with the reality that not only did we lose a "normal" Easter, but Advent and Christmas won't be the same. For me, Christmas Eve is what makes Christmas Christmas. We'll have a service, but it will be different. We'll do our best to make it special, but it won't be the same. Now my hope, though it seems dimmer than I once thought, is that we can have a somewhat "normal" Easter.
I don't mean to be a downer, but I know we're feeling it. School teachers, parents, students, workers, retirees. It doesn't matter what stage of life we're in, we're feeling it. One of the participants in that clergy meeting I spoke of earlier noted that she had read that we're hitting a six-month wall. So be kind to one another. We're getting a bit grumpy and contentious from COVID. On top of that the election season is heating up, and it looks as if things won't be over on November 3rd. So buckle seats. We're in for a rough ride. The good news is that we're not traversing this road alone. As the Psalmist reminds us, the Lord is our Shepherd who walks with us through dark valleys (Ps. 23). The Psalmist also reminds us that God's love is steadfast and eternal (Ps. 106). May we find strength and comfort in that promise, because the end is not in sight yet.