Earlier this week, I watched a person give a live devotional with the camera placed in such a way that she appeared upside down. Her message was still excellent and the video was a-righted in time, but the captured moment seemed a perfect metaphor for the world we’re living in now.
A friend in Wisconsin recently posted on her Facebook page:
Just so I NEVER forget….. April 2, 2020
Gas price a mile from home was $2.08
School cancelled – yes cancelled
Self-distancing measures on the rise.
Tape on the floors at grocery stores and others to help distance shoppers (6ft) from each other.
Limited number of people inside stores, therefore, lineups outside the store doors.
Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed.
Parks, trails, entire cities locked up.
Entire sports seasons cancelled.
Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.
Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.
No masses, churches are closed.
No gatherings of 50 or more, then 20 or more, now 5 or more.
Don’t socialize with anyone outside of your home.
Children’s outdoor play parks are closed.We are to distance from each other.
Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.
Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer.
Shelves are bare.
Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer, and PPE.
Government closes the border to all non-essential travel.
Fines are established for breaking the rules.
Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of COVID-19 patients.
Press conferences daily from the President. Daily updates on new cases, recoveries, and deaths.
Government incentives to stay home.
Barely anyone on the roads.
People wearing masks and gloves outside.
Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families.
This is the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.
Why, you ask, do I write this status?
One day it will show up in my memory feed,
and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious and not to take the things we dearly love for granted.
We have so much!
Be thankful. Be grateful.
Be kind to each other – love one another – support everyone.
The world’s turned on a dime and thrown all of us off-kilter, and with it, made some of us feel a little unstable. Honestly, at first I felt shaken, like the world had suddenly encountered a massive, invisible earthquake, or an invisible gas had silently been released into the world’s air. I watched heartbreaking red-dotted maps online, grow bigger as the horrid life-taking virus spread, from China, to Europe, and then hit both of the United States’ coasts. Hard not to feel like it’s the end of the world when words like “pandemic” are headline stories. When so many many people have died.
We prayed for Italy and were moved by its mandatorily quarantined people with their balcony serenades, knowing some of them were not able to see or say good-bye to their loved ones who’d passed away from this awful virus.
That way of life came to our shores too.
I don’t know about you, but Home World sure feels different. It’s spring here in Minnesota. It should be noisy. But it’s not. There are no planes overhead. Highways and streets are mostly quiet. Neighbors collect mail at a central location but do so wearing gloves, masks, and respectively, keep their distance. Quarantining is the new word. How long have you been quarantining? is an actual conversation-starter these days.
Oh, these days and days of self-isolation. I guess we still have some freedoms since the World put up a Closed Sign. We can choose how intently we want to self-isolate. We can’t go to open-spaced, outdoor parks, but we can walk six feet from another person in one of the essential services allowed places, like grocery stores, if we’re masked and gloved up. I’m not sure I understand that. But I’ll do what it takes to protect my family and protect others too.
About a handful of people I know are actually driving to their jobs, mostly encountering a skeletal crew with doors locked to the public. Some work from their home offices or kitchen desks and are grateful to be able to. Then there are others, accepting twenty-percent pay cuts, phrasing their words slowly, carefully, “I haven’t been laid off . . . yet.” And yes, there are those who, for the first time in their lives, are learning what an unemployment insurance application form looks like.
Teachers and students alike, are adjusting to video lessons. Home schooling. Crazy.
I haven’t seen my sweet mom since the middle of February. The nursing home where she lives is following the governor’s mandate that visitors are not allowed in. I’m glad Mom’s safe, but adjusting is hard and not always understood. I have why and how-long questions too.
Last Saturday, I drove to Jo-Ann Fabrics to do a curbside pick-up. I’d followed the e-mail instructions to phone the store when I arrived. Someone would run the package out to my trunk. Back home, I’d go.
Except, it didn’t play out that way. When I dialed while parked curbside, the employee cut me off. “I can’t bring it to you,” she said. “We can no longer do curbside pick-ups. The police were just here and shut us down. I can either issue a refund or you can order it online to be delivered to your house.”
I mumbled to cancel the order and drove home. Cue theme from The Twilight Zone.
These seemingly momentary bumps in the road are starting to feel more like gulches. I’m wondering not only how many more there are down the road, but how many have “permanence” as their middle name. I could get ahead of myself, start thinking that group hugs will be permanently outlawed, as will splash pads, picnics, outdoor concerts. I could add onto my worry list that once the testing 1- 2-3s come and answers to those tests come, some of us will learn we were unknowing carriers of the virus and thus a contributing factor to Name-Your-Country shutting down. Corona-virus shaming. I’m sure someone will make it a thing.
I recently read that Michigan’s governor is not allowing gardening centers to open. Please, Minnesota, no. Don’t follow suit and do this to us. I need some visible color. Donning blush to Zoom with friends just isn’t cutting it.
I need to see the Bachman’s purple-and-white-striped boxes, tied in inch-wide chartreuse ribbons, filled with a little pot of posies. (Bachman’s is a Twin-Cities based gardening retailer that carries magnificent flowers, plants, shrubs and trees, who when they open their greenhouse doors, help to remove the wild and crazy in some of us who abhor Minnesota’s long, drab winters.)
Good news. The governor just announced that as of April 11th, gardening centers have been deemed essential services and are now open. Thank you, sir.
In the meantime, while I hope and wait for some previous ways of life to return, here are some ways I’m “making lemonade”:
Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano & Orchestra No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op. 73 Emperor. Adagio un Poco Mosso One of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. So calming.
Beautiful, Relaxing Music (that’s actually the name of it.)
Alexis Ffrench (Yes, two fs). My favorite is Bluebird
Serenade to Spring (with beautiful pictures of Norway) as well as a 50+ playlist of Secret Garden-type music.
My top three:
Ken Gire’s “Reflections on the Word” Devotional: Meditating on God’s Word in the Everyday Moments of Life. At once a profound, interrupting, comforting, and steadying intake of the Divine. It is set up as Reading the Word, Reflecting on the Word and Responding to the Word. Some of these are Ken’s writing, some from all sorts of places, and feature writings by C. S. Lewis, Catherine of Siena, Keith Miller, Ted Loder, Paul Brand and Henri J. M. Nouwen. Here’s a sample, fitting for the Time of Corona Virus:
John O’Donohue’s “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings“. A friend gave me this book as a Christmas present and if you like understandable poetry, you will love this book. My favorites: For the Artist at Start of Day and For Grief. I don’t want to share of word of either of them for fear of taking away your own encounter at coming to the words.
I’ve been creating stationery and cards and writing letters. Here’s a little freebie card for you if you want to write someone too. Set your card to print on letter-sized paper, print and then trim.
My favorite version currently is The Passion Translation. Right now, the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Isaiah and Genesis are completed translations of the Bible. It’s published by Broadstreet Publishing.
This week, I found something I’d never noticed before and I think it pertains to the state of the world we’re in right now.
Jesus, in John 19:27, is in the midst of dying on the cross when he looks down at his mother, Mary, as well as one of Jesus’ disciples, John. Jesus said, “Mother, look―John will be a son to you.” Then Jesus said, “John, look―she will be a mother to you!” From that day on, John accepted Mary into his home as one of his own family and Mary entered John’s home as though it were her son’s.
What strikes me about this verse is Jesus, in his final minutes alive, was thinking about the well-being of these two people He loved, who at the foot of His Cross, stayed with him, sorrowing with Him until His final breath. In agony, Jesus instructed John to not only care for Mary but to see her as his own mother. In the same way, Jesus told his mother to see John as her own son.
This historical story moves me. In the last moment before He died, Jesus’ heart and soul was concentrated on thinking about the well-being of those whom He loved.
I believe with all my heart that right now, in whatever circumstance or situation you are in, that Jesus cares about you too. Just like He loved His mother and His disciple, John, He loves you, the world, and its inhabitants. He created Earth – you and me – because He wants to walk through life with us.
He made a way for us to do that, and to be together with Him for all eternity in Heaven. He came to Earth because He loves You. He endured the Cross because He loves You. Just the way you are. He rose from the dead because of You and Me. The Queen of England said during this corona virus time that “Easter is not canceled because we need Easter more than ever.”
She’s right. Easter is not canceled and can never be canceled. Jesus canceled death and separation from God by taking our sins upon Himself at the Cross. God, Jesus’ Father, raised Him from the dead so that we may have eternal life.
Wherever you find yourself today in this upside-down world, may you encounter Easter, and its true meaning, this day. May you sense Jesus’ deep and ever-lasting love for you.
About Julie Saffrin
Julie Saffrin is the author of numerous published articles and essays. Her latest book, BlessBack: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life, explores the power of gratitude and offers 120 creative ways to journey toward positive, lasting change.