Contagious Thoughts 5

I walked through our village this summer evening, listening to the rustle and whisper in the treetops--the delicate leafy applause that seems spontaneous, as though an unseen hand or the trees themselves are giving their branches a gentle shake.

The world is “opening up,” and this is the first weekend where we may gather in circles of chosen friends and family members. The village hummed with groups of people in backyards, and front lawns, revelling in the sudden delight of those beyond their immediate household.

It was after attending church on March 15 that I stopped at a grocery store for a few last-minute necessities. Everywhere store shelves were suddenly empty of pasta, cereals, all kinds of dry goods, and especially paper goods like toilet rolls. It felt as though a storm was on the way and we were battening down the hatches!

For several weeks, we've followed the instructions of government officials to stay home unless we had an urgent need. We soon became familiar with the mantra, “Stay Home, Wash Your Hands, Cough into Your Sleeve, and Maintain Social Distance.” But that first weekend, we thought only in terms of a few weeks. We didn’t imagine the dramatic changes we’d be facing or for how long. It has been a severe and painful time, yet, almost three months since the world we knew “before” stopped, we’ve adjusted to previously unthinkable new normals!

We realize that life can’t be the same, even when the daily count of deaths due to this virus comes to a merciful zero. We don't want it to be the same. There’s reflectiveness, along with gratitude in the air. The forced stop in the headlong rush of our lives is like a Sabbath for our souls. The gift God tried to give us once a week, but we were too busy to receive, came, whether we wanted to unwrap it or not. And with the pause, we learned some valuable things.

Some younger friends asked us each time they went shopping if we needed anything. I learned to evaluate what was a necessity and what could wait because I didn’t want to presume on their kindness. And when they dropped off bags with our essentials, it felt like Christmas! Unwrapping the items and then washing them carefully, I was so grateful! And I used up so many things in my freezer and shelves. Eventually, I learned the ropes of ordering online, and now we’re venturing out independently again.

I’ve cherished more relaxed relationships with people who aren’t so busy at this time. I hope the intense and pressured life of “before” doesn’t return as the virus decreases. Talking with family and friends, I think that many are carefully evaluating how much of the pre-virus normal they want to resume.

Signs dot the lawns of our village. "Support Your Neighbour," “Smile,” “Be Strong,” “Be Positive,” they say, as well as other encouraging things--the lessons we all hope to remember, "Be Kind," "Be Nice--Go Slow."


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