Coronavirus has arrived in the form of COVID-19. If ever we needed calm, this would be the time. My work this week has largely been listening to and containing anxiety--my own as well as others'.
Here is what I know at this moment (because this week, it seems that each moment is different):
COVID-19 has taken the lives of almost 9000 persons. The CDC and New York State have banned gatherings over 10, so in person-worship is canceled for the time being and we are trying mightily to come up with ways to continue the continuity of our faith community and create worship and ministry in meaningful ways, even during this difficult season. My father is currently hospitalized in Atlanta with complications resulting from deteriorating health as a result of a particularly nasty cancer. We don't know when he is going home. I just went to visit him last week with my daughter, and he went into the hospital the day after we left. Nate is "work from home" until May 14 at least. My daughter's jobs are the same. The United Methodist General Conference has been postponed from its May 5-15 dates, and this is a BIG ONE-postponement delays some resolution the church has been looking for.
"Anxiety in my life is epic right now" might even be an understatement at this point.
So, what to do?
First, I wash my hands. I know, I know. What does the meme say? "We thought we'd have flying cars by now, but we're still teaching people to wash their hands." But, I find it a small and immensely comforting thing I can do. I can't vaccinate, I can't cure the thousands who are ill, I can't make it better for everyone who is suffering right now, but I can wash my hands. That small act is actually very helpful to me. It's solid, it's tangible, and it absolutely protects me and those around me.
I am also working hard at protecting the people in my care, by creating safe spaces and new opportunities for people to experience church while at a distance.
I am also taking time to breathe, and sleep, and do right and good things wherever I can. I've told our gym (which has had to close its doors for now, as has our church) to keep taking our auto payments; Nate and I walked the 4 miles of the rail trail this afternoon in that lovely spring sunshine on his lunch break; tonight, we had supper from a local restaurant where we hold our congregational book study each week, and we left a large tip for our usual server when we picked up our meal. This all felt really good, and yes, we are well aware of the privilege that allows us to do it without worry or fear.
I think it comes down to the fact that small things really do count.
What are you doing to calm your anxiety in this strange and turbulent season? It's a good conversation to have, my friends. It's the little things.