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Posts Tagged ‘#coronavirus’

Old Man in Sorrow
(On the Threshold of Eternity),
by Vincent van Gogh

I remember years ago hearing of the delays of children who had been in orphanages in Romania (known as dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu’s children). They spent their days in cribs, where they were kept alive with bottles and diaper changes. What they were deficient in was physical contact, stimulation, love.

The impacts of their growing up in that environment went beyond the fact that these rooms full of babies and toddlers were without cooing or crying. These little souls were impacted in their physical, mental, emotional, social and probably every other area of their health and development … all because they were deficient in that which all humans need … human contact, interaction and love.

Now, thirty some years later, another group of humans is experiencing a type of failure to thrive, brought on, not by a nation’s dictator, but by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The news this week had been of a report finding that loneliness is impacting the mental health of Canadians (no doubt others as well). But if we, who are able to go to work, who have the ability to get out of our homes, who have human interaction every day are struggling with our mental health due to loneliness …

what about our seniors?

what about those who are living in isolation?

I have been reading lately that loneliness is a greater fear to those who are alone than Coronavirus. Read that again …

And, some studies hint that during our current pandemic more people may die of the effects of loneliness than of the virus itself.

For those who are isolated from human interaction, stress of this pandemic as well as the the loneliness that accompanies it can mean that they may be at greater risk of heart attack, stroke, depression and even premature death.

“I very much feel my solitude.”

Renata Cafferata (87, Italy)

What that says to me is that this is a need human need that we need to address … and I don’t mean that we need to write to our government officials.

What we need to do it to check in on our neighbors, friends and family who may live alone. Offer to pick up their groceries. Stop by for a visit on their porch or deck, or in their garage (make sure they are bundled up warmly). Take them a meal, drop off flowers, make a call to them, write a note, a letter … make contact with them!

These connections could save a life! This is important … it could be life or death for them!

In an article in The Atlantic, Charles H. Zeanah, a child-psychiatry professor (who was part of a study of orphaned children in Bucharest in 2000), said,

“Imagine how that must feel—to be miserable and not even know that another human being could help.”

He was speaking of babies, or children, who knew no better. They had been born into a world without their need of human interaction and attachment being met.

During this duel pandemic of Covid19 and loneliness, those who are miserable DO know that another human could help … but they are alone.

It is up to the rest of us to ensure that they do not feel the weight of that loneliness … that it does not reach down to the depths of human despair.

This, my fellow humans, especially to those of us who claim the name of Christ, is our opportunity to be the hands and feet of God.

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You read that title right … there are good things that have come from this Covid 19 pandemic.

Call me Pollyanna if you wish, but my mind seeks to see the good in the bad as it’s method of processing, accepting and moving on from the dark and nasties of life.

The thing is, as I went back to work last week and prepare for the start of a new school year in the week to come, it hit me that there are at least three good things that have come from the Covid 19 pandemic.

The first is hand washing. Not only are we washing our hands, but there are reminders everywhere of how and how long, ensuring that we are not just dipping our hands in water and then drying them. This simple and quick act of protection will probably also help to reduce the spread of viruses beyond Covid 19. According to the CDC, hand-washing alone can reduce respiratory infections by 16% and this practise can reduce the spread of other diseases as well.

The second is that people will not just be encouraged, but will be expected to stay home when sick if one is feeling unwell. Working in a high school I have had the experience of what we call ‘typical’ students cough or sneeze directly towards my face … yikes! Yet, I have also had the experience of working alongside colleagues who have decided to work while sick, spreading their viral germs through the air and on every surface from the photocopier to the door handles. I have to say I actually feel more confident returning to school, with this new social, school and workplace change in thinking to feeling unwell.

The third is the bubble. In North America (and all around the world), we were encouraged to stay home, within our household bubble. Our families were forced to spend time together. Now, Pollyanna-like I may be, I do recognize that this was not a good or safe reality for some, where households are the most dangerous and harmful places to be. But, for the majority, we were involuntarily brought together, under one roof. During this time people learned how to cook their dinners, how to play board games, do puzzles, watch movies, how to garden, go for daily family walks and bike rides. We learned what together means, we might even have learned who lives under our roofs.

There are many unfortunate and even tragic results of the Coronavirus, but I do hope that these three have positive changes in our thinking and in our communities, long term.

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Me or we?

Sometimes our questions come down to that one question …

Me or we?

When we believe that our actions do not have any impact on those around us … when we think that our desires come before anyone else … when we hold to the perspective that we are in control of our own destinies we are living in the me world.

When we consider how our actions impact those around us … when others are considered in the seeking of having our desires met … when we recognize that our destinies are in the hands of a greater power … and we care for the needs of others who we share community with, we are living in a bigger world … the real world.

We are now living in a time when we need to abandon the me for the we.

Now is the time to clean out the stuff in our homes that we truly do not need and prepare it for donation to those who have need. To reach out to help our neighbors who might not be able to get out to get essentials. To read good books, to try new recipes, to take a walk in our neighborhoods, to play games. To use technology, for calls and FaceTime gatherings. To get to know the people who live under our own roofs.

Switching out our thinking from me to we.

It is now the time to listen to what health experts are saying, suggesting, imploring. It is now the time to look at the needs of those around us, of how our pursuit of me could put others in possible danger.

I recently read an article from the Boston Globe, written by Mattia Ferraresi, who is a writer for the Italian newspaper Il Foglio. (The subtitle of the article is, “Many of us were too selfish to follow suggestions to change our behavior. Now we’re in lockdown and people are needlessly dying.”)

Ms. Ferraresi said, of the affects of the lockdown in Italy :

“Strangely, it’s also a moment in which our usual individualistic, self-centered outlook is waning a bit. In the end, each of us is giving up our individual freedom in order to protect everybody, especially the sick and the elderly. When everybody’s health is at stake, true freedom is to follow instructions.”

May we learn from what other nations had to learn the hard way. May we acknowledge that this world does not revolve around me but that we share this world, are co-dependent on each other for both joy and for survival of life.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor (WE) as yourself (ME).’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

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People hoarding toilet paper and sanitizer, limits on travel, cancelling of sporting and entertainment events, stock markets plunging and social media informing the populace on COVID-19 …

” … be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic … for the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
– Deuteronomy 31:6

We have observed students, parents and travellers roll their eyes, ignore professional advice or grow in fear each day.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” -John 14:27

I, myself, have the Wolrd Health Organization and the John Hopkins COVID-19 Global Map (in real time) in open tabs on my laptop, so that I can keep up to date on the facts of this global pandemic.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Yet, with all of the cancellations and changes, with all of the craziness, with all of this doom and gloom … there is a realization that we are not in control. With that realization comes the acceptance that our hope, humanly speaking, is not within our own humanity.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
– Psalm 46:1

In 1948, after the horrors of the end of WW2, people realized that, though the war was over, a new age had dawned … the Atomic Age … and people were perhaps even more fearful than during the war years.

It was then that C.S. Lewis wrote an essay titled, On Living in an Atomic Age (which was published with other essays in a book called Present Concerns: Journalistic Essays.

It would seem than many have been dusting this essay off lately … still wise words for tough times. I have gone ahead and replaced “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus” (noted by italics).

In one way, we think a great deal too much of the coronavirus. “How are we to live in an coronavirus age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the coronavirus was spreading: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by coronavirus, let that virus when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about the coronavirus. It may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but it need not dominate our minds.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7

May we not allow fear to guide us.

May we be found spending this time doing sensible things … things like making good meals, washing our hands, offering others assistance, taking walks to breath in the fresh air, reading good books, cleaning out our closets, making long distance calls, stretching our bodies, praying, loving others in practical and spiritual ways … posting encouragement on social media.

Let us love.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
– Proverbs 12:25 

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