Updated: Mar 22, 2020
These are peculiar days.
Decades from now there will be stories about life during the pandemic of 2020; the days when the world seemed to come to a screeching halt and life as we knew it, if only temporarily, radically changed in matter of days.
We are instructed to isolate from the the public, keep distance between one another, and stay at home. Restaurants are closed for in-house dining. College courses are now on-line only. Sporting events, concerts, and college graduations are cancelled. Theaters and malls, and even the beaches, are closed.
In some ways this reminds me of life after Hurricane Ivan plowed the area. Back in September 2004, Ivan literally shut down Pensacola. Due to extensive damage, the malls were closed and didn’t reopen until January. Grocery stores were closed due to power outages; when they opened, the shelves were bare. The government brought in MREs and bottled water. Until the National Guard arrived to direct traffic, every intersection became a four-way stop. Businesses were closed due to damage; some never reopened. Even when the power came back on, there were no high school football games, community sporting events or concerts. The entire focus was on community recovery.
Unlike Ivan, with this pandemic, we have power and, while often inconvenient, access to food. Thank the Lord, we do not have massive physical destruction nor months’ work of debris cleanup.
However, COVID-19 is indeed a major storm. It is a health threat to us all, so we must take precautions to limit our exposure. It is an inconvenience; going out in public is a potential risk. It threatens financial disaster for businesses and families.
Even still, I am confident good will come out of this. Storms have an odd way of rearranging our priorities.
For me, I quickly discovered this is a time-out I didn’t know I needed.
Almost every day afterwork, and sometimes on the weekends, I stopped by a big-box store to pick up a few things or thrift stores to treasure hunt. In both places, while I did go for something I “needed,” I also walked away with impulse purchases. While I am a good steward of my money, I cringe when I think of how much time I wasted. I allowed shopping - the pursuit of something — to become a habit.
These past few days, since I am not running around, I have sat on the back porch reading, writing, and listening to the birds. I’ve baked homemade bread. I’ve been simplifying and purging things…yep, many of the had-to-have things which I bought at a thrift store.
Today, when a long-time high school friend posted some old photos, I pulled out my own box of memorabilia. All afternoon, I’ve traveled down memory lane. I’ve been rereading letters from friends, looking at old photos and flipping through yearbooks. As we’ve posted photos to social media, other classmates have made comments; classmates that I don’t hear from very often…because we’re all too busy. The interaction has blessed my extrovert heart.
My neighborhood has been noisy this weekend. Younger kids are playing in their backyards. Two houses down, siblings are shooting hoops. A neighbor is washing their car; another is using a wood saw for an unknown project. I can hear my next door neighbors chatting on their back porch. Noticeably missing is the street noise from the main road.
Now that I think about it, it’s as if the hands of time have been turned back sevearal decades. Back to a simpler time when we weren’t always so busy. Back when we ate meals at home with our family, played outside until the street light came on, and weren’t always in pursuit of bigger and better things.
To quote a friend, maybe this time-out is the reboot our country desperately needs.
It certainly is one I needed.
But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your Hands.
~ Psalm 31:14-15
So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
~ Psalm 90:12