The Chinese 危机, wei1ji1 = crisis (danger + opportunity)
Some 298 years ago this month, English writer (also trader, journalist, and spy!) Daniel Defoe published his Journal of the Plague Year. Although only five when the Great (Bubonic) Plague hit London, his hometown, in 1665, the author of Robinson Crusoe gave readers 57 years later a novelist’s view of what that plague was like. Google states that some 100,000 Londoners, a significant portion of its population back then, probably died. The BBC online goes on to state, however, that, according to modern historians, “the plague had little effect on England—scientific and economic growth continued unaffected, and even the worst-affected towns recovered quickly.” May it be so—the latter, that is—for the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Like many others, especially those in my age group (I’m 80.), I’m self-isolating at home. It’s possible of course to go stir-crazy, all in the name of preserving health and life. But attitude can be destiny. So besides washing my hands frequently as I sing Happy Birthday to myself twice; using hand sanitizer while my supply lasts; coughing into my sleeve; and staying at least six feet away from everyone, even as I am able myself, I am consciously attempting to turn my confinement into a spiritual retreat. Of course, two congenial housemates, a loving wife, and a purry cat, not to mention a seven-bedroom house, make this exercise more possible. Plus, I am really enjoying putting my usual hectic life on a medically indicated hiatus. Relief from getting up every Tuesday at 5:20 a.m. so I can arrive promptly at my weekly men’s group 30 minutes away at 7, for example, is a real treat.
One of the best things Cedar, my wife, and I do is take daily walks. We are lucky to have Wonderland Lake Park just five minutes from our North Boulder home. The air is clear in early spring, and the people you pass are especially friendly. Their smiles and words of greeting imply that we’re all in this together but at least we can still take walks in the beauty that’s Colorado. It’s also nice to get front-door visits from slightly younger neighbors asking if we’re okay and to have received four emails from young women in our Bright Stars mentoring group, wondering if they can shop or do anything else for us. Just writing about this brings tears.
But it is more blessed to give than to receive. So, I try to do my part by calling shut-ins, offering healing prayer as a trained intercessor from St. John’s Episcopal Parish to those folks who call me, and participating in my men’s groups and Education for Ministry class by Zoom. In short, we are all in this together. In conclusion, then, may we all stay safe and healthy and come out of the Plague of 2020 a closer, more unified, more collaborative and loving world. Amen.