I love to hear what folks are doing with their time during these Covid-19 days. The question “What are you doing?” brings some interesting answers revealing inventiveness, resilience, courage, obedience, imagination, perseverance, and a host of other qualities. For instance, I heard that residents in a neighborhood near us formed a parade of children waving palm branches on Palm Sunday. The children and their parents walked around the block, keeping their six feet of distance, a quiet joyful remembrance of that day when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. I’m told eager observers waved from patios and windows.
Let me share some other isolation activities as gleaned from phone, text, e-mail, and snail mail. I didn’t start out doing a survey to see what everyone was up to. These are simply off-the-cuff reports from folks I know as we experience “togetherness from afar.”
From Birmingham came the news that Will and Christi, her dad, and their three children held a very special Maundy Thursday service last week. They used their breakfast table as an altar and each member participated in some way, reading scripture, praying or singing. Christi printed out a program for them to go by. They had communion and even a foot washing ceremony. Then Friday found them painting a wooden cross to place on their front lawn and coloring eggs to hide.
Suzanne and Bill in Clarkesville, Georgia went to our old home place to have their sunrise service for two on Tulip Hill. She sent pictures of purple myrtle completely mounding over the stump of our dear old maple, a picture of resurrection.
Joan in Plantation, Florida wrote of her family’s way of handling social distancing. She said her daughter Lindsay and her family come over every day to visit. They sit in chairs in their driveway six feet from Joan and Donald and talk for ten or fifteen minutes. Joan and Donald love this interaction but long, I know, for the day when they can start hugging again.
I talked to Beth Knight-Pinneo in Colorado. It was beautiful that day, she said, with birds singing, a blue sky, sunshine. She is working at home and finding many good things about this time. She has extra time with her family, takes nice long walks during her breaks, and her husband prepares lunch for them all. She said she prays Psalm 91 for her family and loved ones every day.
My country singer nephew, Neil Dover, in Fairhope, Alabama, was so cheerful when I talked to him. What was he doing? Same as other musicians everywhere, he said, at a standstill because of cancelling all gigs and concerts. He is still doing his Facebook live shows from time to time. He said he and Katie decided they would plant some flowers so went to Lowe’s to find some. The lines of people six feet apart were very long, he said. Everyone was planting flowers!
When communicating with Charles’s sister Revonda in Thomasville, Georgia, she talks about walking their family dogs, Buck and Piper. Buck is somewhat stricken in age so doesn’t go very far, Piper walks a mile. Thinking of them reminds me of a comic strip Charles shared the other day. Two dogs on leash were walking and looking very tired. One said to the other, “I’ll be so glad when we get back to just two or three walks a day.”
Lorna, in San Diego, working at home, took time to describe her pretty view from spacious windows, of nearby grass and flowers and tall buildings in the distance. But her days right now, aside from answering tons of tough research questions all day, are filled with expectation. Any day the phone will buzz and she’ll hear that her daughter has birthed Lorna’s second grandson.
As our friends Ron and Carol Collins remind us, this waiting time is a good opportunity to talk to–and listen to–God. Their wonderful organization in Columbus, Georgia, called International Friendship Ministries, has adapted to the crisis. Instead of art classes for the children, they’re inviting children to send work in online. Instead of Bible classes in person, they’re making lessons available electronically. They really miss, though, the social interaction with military and college groups. This organization has made an impact for Jesus in the last year to folks from 102 countries without ever leaving Columbus.
We got word the other day that Charles’s Uncle Ellis had died, not from coronavirus, just because his body was worn out and it was time to go to heaven. There were thirteen children in that family and now only one is left. Normally, Uncle Ellis would have had a funeral attended by a crowd of nieces and nephews. As it was, only ten people could be there for his graveside service.
The big little word is wait. We wait. Our hair grows long and our patience grows thin. But let’s keep sewing, cleaning, pruning (azaleas are getting short “hair” cuts!), cooking (minimal jaunts to the store make for some interesting substitutions in the culinary department!), watching birds, discovering rare blossoms and sharing stories with each other. In the words of Henry W. Longfellow, “Let us, then, be up and doing With a heart for any fate, Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.”
And we must keep laughing. One day when I called a dear friend and sked her what wonderful things she’d been doing, she chuckled and said, “I just had a really nice nap.” Now that is a great idea!
BREAKING NEWS!!! Lorna’s grandson was born April 14, weighing nine pounds, a healthy little boy. Grace was only allowed to have her husband, David, with her for about an hour after the baby’s arrival because of the coronavirus danger. A new baby! A sign of hope in a broken world.