Here we are in a strange warp, suddenly hyper-aware of how connected we are at the very moment we have been driven into isolation. To those of us who gather around the prophet Jesus and the example of his radically open community centered on eating together, social distancing is anathema. But again, here we are.
In one of the myriad articles published about the current crisis, a woman in West Virginia was asked about the panicked run on food and supplies. She responded with something like this: “If this is how we act because of a virus, no wonder the government doesn’t tell us about aliens.” Yes, more humor, please.
Panicked buying and hording is exactly the opposite of recognizing we are all in this together. What has not dawned on those who were driven by fear to gobble up more than they need, is that leaving others more vulnerable or defenseless simply increases the number of carriers. More carriers heighten the likelihood the hoarders will contract the virus. Fear-based decisions frequently lead to self-destructive actions.
Then again, there was not much evidence of fear on Saturday afternoon when people were walking around in groups through downtown Geneva, stumbling and laughing in strange green outfits while sharing germs. Having been consumed in thoughts of the pandemic and preparing for the last in-person worship with my congregation for what may be months, I couldn’t understand what all those people were doing out and about. Had I been an alien the government hasn’t told us about, I could have reasoned that dressing in green was some kind of virus protection. I am grateful to be allergic to alcohol.
This feels unreal. All the buying, stocking, planning, changing routines, working from home, preparing for something but we don’t know what, and then waiting, feels like whiplash to a culture steeped in immediate gratification and awash in virtual reality. This reality, at least until we are surrounded by people getting sick, feels less real than the fantasy worlds we watch or read about.
Sixty is the new old. Yep, I have read it over and over and over again. Those over sixty, no matter the status of their overall health, are more vulnerable to the virus. For a couple of weeks now, I have been translating that in my head as: “Yes, but actually they mean people in their seventies and eighties because I am not that old.” They lied, sixty is not the new forty.
I confess that washing my hands while singing “Happy Birthday” twice requires more patience than I can muster. Instead I have begun enjoying conversations with the virus, asking it to be a good little virus and slide on off now so I can rinse and get on with it. These little utterances take just as long as singing but I find the sound of my spoken voice, at least in my head, to be more enjoyable than the singing one. Too much isolation is not good for you.