“Many waters cannot quench love. Neither can floods drown it.” –Song of Songs, 8:7.
When I was struggling with something unpleasant or hard, my mother always said to me, “And this, too, shall pass.” As a middle school student (half a million years ago), I didn’t understand what my mother was telling me. In my way of thinking, I was doomed to experience the same people bullying me forever and ever. The future was a haze to me. And the end of a bad situation was so far off that it didn’t feel real.
Eventually, however, middle school ended. And life went on, with its usual ups and downs until about nine months ago, when everything stopped.
What the heck? The world isn’t supposed to stop. Those of us who were considered nonessential stayed at home, where we battled loneliness, fear, and grief. We were horrified by the rapidly rising death toll, and we felt helpless to stop the spread and flatten the curve.
A few months later, everything started to re-open. We ventured out, wearing our masks, and we socially distanced and we washed our hands and…
The pandemic didn’t end. It was more like waxing and waning. It came and it went and it returned yet again. And people grew tired of it. They became careless and they shed their masks and they stopped social distancing.
I understand that people are ready for this to end. Pandemics don’t end on command, however. Unfortunately, people’s reactions to the exhaustion is actually extending the pandemic. People tired of the restrictions are more likely than more patient people to attend super spreader events. There’s even a phenomenon called “living room spread.” That’s when people visit family or friends in their homes. The attitude is, “I know them so it’s fine to have a meal at (person’s) home.” Normally, it’s okay to go to people’s houses and enjoy a meal with them. But now, any unmasked time with people who do not live in your immediate household is an invitation to danger. People literally do not know when they have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. And, unknowingly, they are spreading the virus to anyone who comes in close proximity with them. Although this fact has been mentioned on the news repeatedly, there are people who reject such information as “fake news.”
Some day, however, this, too, shall pass. Really. My mother was right about that. We will go from crisis mode to healing mode. We will be able to share meals and hugs. We will return to the places that we’ve vacated. We will sing in four-part harmony. We will go to the county fair and eat junk food until we think that we are going to explode. We will swim in the lake and in pools. We will get on buses and trains and travel cross country to visit friends and family or simply to have an adventure. And, because we have had to experience isolation for so long so that we can stay alive, the activities of daily life that we once took for granted will feel like the greatest gifts of all.
Hang on. Stay strong. Look at the pictures of the people that you love the most. Talk with them on the phone or via Zoom or FaceTime. Write a letter. You are isolating yourself for them now. You are isolating for the day when you can reach out, touch, and never let go. We can do it. Together, but apart.