“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”― Anne Frank
On January 20th, 2020 the United States confirmed its first case of the Coronavirus though it had actually been in our midst long before that. On February 29th, the United States confirms its first death and travel restrictions are set in place.
Fast forward to March 13th, when President Trump declares a National State of Emergency. On March 15th, the CDC recommends restrictions on gatherings over 50 people. On March 17th, France locks down restricting arrivals and departures out of the country and on March 23rd, Britain does the same. On March 27th, President Trump signs the $2 trillion dollar Coronavirus Stimulus bill and on March 30th, states began enacting “Stay at Home” orders for the public.
It took just over two months for the virus (and the fear) to spread throughout our communities and grab hold placing a stranglehold on our economy, our livelihood, and our societal norms. And worse than that – the feeling that there is no end in sight continues to plague our daily lives.
So what can we do? As a society? A family? An individual? I’ll tell you – FIGHT.
In the words of one of our more recent Commanders’ in Chief: “Pessimism never won any battle.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower (President 1953-1961).
This coming from a Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (1951-1952), Army Chief of Staff (1945-1948), Military Governor in Occupied Germany (1945). His military career spanned from 1915-1953 and more spanning two World Wars among others.
Pessimism; an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome. (Merriam-Webster)
In other words, without hope.
Sitting here in my little office at Next Step Pregnancy Services in the quiet afternoon, having seen a few moms come in for some essentials I wonder about Eisenhower’s sentiment and if we, or even just me, are fighting the fight or assuming the worst is yet to come. And I am happy to report – it is the latter.
From the donations coming in, to the tiny staff still opening our doors, to the letter my daughter wrote to a checker at our local grocery store thanking him for his work, to the laughter and excitement each morning as our whole school gathers for our daily Zoom Prayer and Pledge, to the neighbors gathering supplies to deliver to the homebound who have no help, from the long walks in the warm afternoon light with just our tiny family of three, to the endless board games and calls to Grandma. And finally to the Sunday morning live-stream of Mass (in our pjs) and the knowledge that our fellow Christians are all gathered around their respective devices praying together, listening together, being together for the sacredness of the Mass. I guess I could go on but I think you get it.
This is not the end. For every lousy news clip or tragic soundbite or every bout of complaining and bashing of our leaders by our leaders, for every opinion shoved in our face, TP hoarding meme, and ultimatum sent our way, for every cancelled event and every missed opportunity – I say this is not the end.
Because we are still here and still fighting and still coming up with new ways to connect with each other, to help each other, to see each other. Not in person but in the writings and pictures, the stories of helping and looking out for one another. In creative lesson plans our teachers are coming up with, to the conversations we are having with our spouses and our children, to the prayers we are saying to each other and for each other, to the rooms we are finally cleaning, to the walks we are finally taking and finally to playing in the backyard with the old badminton set from a long ago Christmas. We’re still here and we will still be here long after this has passed. And I believe we will come out of this a better people. More attuned to what’s really important in our lives. Because that’s who we are. So is this virus a blessing or a curse? For some it’s a sad, hard time especially if someone you love has been lost or is ill. And we mourn with those people. For others it’s a time to gather close together as a family, to slow down, and really see each other. Light always makes its way out of darkness. In every story, every picture, every prayer. This time will be no different.
“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again