On a recent morning I watched the mist gather over the corn and bean fields down the hill from our house. It didn’t take long for it to climb the hill and obscure most everything around us, muting colors, blending earth and sky, erasing the hard edges of buildings and fences. Along with the visual near-blindness, it felt like a pressure bearing down, making movement and thinking difficult.
The experience of the fog was not unlike that of being five months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The inability to see into the near future and the pressure of wondering what is going to happen next can easily turn into an anxiety that seems endless. We were beginning to make headways in curbing its invasion into our lives, but our need to have things return to the normal we knew before was so great that decisions to stop staying home or sheltering in place or social distancing went by the wayside. It kind of felt like trying to take a drive in the midst of that heavy fog when what you knew was there before cannot be seen, and deadly accidents start to happen.
Trying to walk in the fog makes us slow down, makes us look more closely at what is immediately around us. We begin to understand that, although we can’t see very far, we can still see; we are not blind. With this pandemic it seems that it is important to take our bearings now on what it is that we can see, not what we wish would be there. We have to take what we do know about our surroundings: that over 160,000 people have died in the United States; over 740,000 around the world. These statistics are real people, someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, friend and colleague. Just as we tread carefully when walking in a fog, so we must take precautions in navigating this epidemic. Just simple things can make such a difference: washing hands frequently, wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from others, foregoing the usual pleasures of eating in a restaurant, shopping for nonessentials, being in crowded places whether for a birthday party or a movie. What we forego now will return in time, but only for those of us who remain alive.
“Love one another as I have loved you,” said Jesus. Do we have enough love to wait out this fog, and to do our part to contain the pandemic so that others may live?
– Blog entry by Sister Joyce Lehman