Strange times. I had a dental cleaning this morning, which I kept after a little internal debate. They took my temperature before they let me enter. The hygienist told me about her cancelled trip to Australia. On the way home, the deejay told me that Governor Inslee has called for restrictions on gatherings larger than 50 people (ironically, Wenatchee School District decided to have one more day before beginning their closure, which strikes me as missing the point), which was immediately followed by a commercial for a restaurant/bar with “eighteen local brews on tap,” and a spa in Leavenworth. Probably won’t be visiting either of those this week.
Here we are. I wrote a post trying to encourage people to take this situation seriously without panicking. A bunch of people thanked me and one person said, “Okay, now get back to your normal posts. Help us feel normal.”
I debated that in my head a bunch. These aren’t normal times. Thus far, one of the strangest things I’ve experienced has been being out in my car and having everything feel normal while it decidedly is not. Last night between 9 and 10 PM, I took our dogs for a walk. Wenatchee isn’t exactly humming at 9:30PM on any given Sunday, but it felt like I was walking at midnight. Walking about 2.5 miles, I saw perhaps 10 headlights and exactly one other person, standing in the dark in their yard. I can walk our dogs anytime I want right now, but I shouldn’t go to Seattle Yoga and Cafe, except maybe for takeout, which kind of defeats most of the reason I visit coffee shops. Strange times.
I’m still wrapping my head around how abnormal this will be. My 12-year-old and I discussed last night what we can do: bike riding, one-on-one basketball, tons of board games. He told me he realized he wasn’t very pleasant last night and needs to do better, since we’re going to be in close quarters for a while. Parenting victory! But not normal times.
Back to the comment, here’s what I debated: Do I address this directly from here on, or do I act like things are normal? Of course, being the SJW that I am (like Mister Rogers), I want to call everyone’s attention to the struggles going on right now, especially for those suffering more than we are.* But after a bit, I started to see the other point of view. These are strange times. People have fewer options and need to choose, for the benefit of everyone, to remain in isolation really as much as we reasonably can. (Mind you, our isolation is two cats, two dogs, a tweener, a teenager, a twenty-year-old, plus me and Kim and my sister-in-law and three nieces, because they live two doors away and we function, in practice, as one household. Oh, and a snake.)
I’m a writer and a pastor, certainly in practice if not according to the IRS. So what can I offer during these strange times? Well, perhaps more than I initially recognized, since I can do what I do from home (I always do) and reach you with what I do while you’re in isolation.
So here we go. I’m going to post at least one normal thing each day, whether it’s one of my “normal” observations-of-life posts or a short story or a poem or–get excited–more discussion of baseball cards and ultimate! I’m going to proceed to talk about the situation we’re all facing, as well, to encourage and exhort where I can. I won’t commit to one of these latter posts each day , but I’ll make that my goal. So you may get two notifications each day, those of you who subscribe (God bless you!), and as always you don’t have to read them all. But if having that available helps even a few of you, it’s worth my effort. Also, I have a significant catalog of sermons I’ve never posted. That won’t be everybody’s thing, but the timing might be good for some.
Astoundingly, some people are still debating whether we need to do this isolation at all. I hope that’s not you. I’ve learned that I can’t convince people who don’t want to be convinced, even when I have the best intentions (like telling people they are loved). But I have changed my mind about what is happening currently. I wasn’t taking it seriously enough, initially. Now I am. We all need to be able to change our minds when evidence calls for it, in all areas of our lives. Being able to recognize when we’re wrong is healthy; inability to acknowledge we’re wrong is a symptom of a psychological issue.
So, I was wrong: we need both a growing understanding of what we’re facing and a broader perspective that our world has not been reduced to the impact of a virus. We do need “normal stuff” to help us get through this.
Normal stuff in strange times, coming up!
*Not long ago, a friend on Facebook accused me of exclusively caring about people in poverty. I’ve never felt more conflicted about a critique in my life. How disappointed would Jesus be in me if he had to say, “You only love people suffering poverty!” Realistically, I know that’s not true, not even close, and I should be loving those people more than I am. But another part of me thinks, “If I’m coming across as caring only for those suffering, maybe I’m sort of doing okay.” I don’t think the biggest problem in our world is that too many people are speaking up on behalf of the suffering and oppressed. And then of course there’s the part of me that just hates being criticized and gnaws on it forever.