When I wrote that first Coronavirus Diary in March of 2020, I could’ve never imagined that almost two years later I’d be on the thirty-second installment, yet here we are.
We are tired of it. We are discouraged. We are ready for this mess to be over, but we clearly have a ways to go.
My last coronavirus diary was in September when we were headed back to school, mask-clad yet hopeful that we were returning to some semblance of ‘normal’. My students filed in, grumbling but happy to be together. We re-learned classroom rules — expectations for coexisting in the same space such as arriving on time, sitting in assigned seats, putting our phones away, wearing a mask. When the inevitable happened and someone caught COVID, we followed the CDC’s guidelines for contact tracing and quarantining. Students took turns isolating at home where they could access assignments through Google classroom, if they were so inclined, and then returning to the classroom after two weeks’ time. At the end of October, a high number of staff cases sent us home for two weeks. We returned in mid November, regrouped, and carried on until early December when, once again, we headed home due to a staffing shortage.
Being in the building is better of course. I have had more students in attendance, more students completing assignments, more students dropping in for snacks, more students walking by for a fist bump first thing in the morning.
The school year was beginning to feel a little like ‘normal’. In fact, even with the interruptions for virtual instruction, I got so much into the groove that I began to believe we were truly on our way out of the pandemic — that I had no more coronavirus diaries to write, nothing more to say on the topic. Yet, here we are two years after the first cases were reported, seeing the daily case numbers surge and watching the death count ticker slowly tick-ticking away. Last Friday, we moved back to remote instruction, hunkering down once again in our homes, where we will stay until the end of January.
Over 835,000 Americans have died because of Covid, and this current Omicron surge has us averaging over 600,000 new cases a day. And while word on the street is that Omicron is less severe than previous strains of the virus, it is wildly more contagious — whole school districts are remote, hospitals are at capacity, and the interruption to daily life cannot be ignored.
Guidance on how to behave during this latest wave is confusing, to say the least, but the essentials remain the same:
Some of us read those guidelines and readily do our part; others, for a variety of reasons, have chosen not to get vaccinated, have resisted wearing masks, and have for all intents and purposes returned to life as we once knew it, in those pre-pandemic days.
Is it time for that? Right now? When we are in the middle of a surge of cases?
Don’t our actions, whichever ones we choose, have an impact on not only ourselves, but also on others in our community?
Haven’t we seen the impact of this pandemic and our divided response?
Not only has the virus lingered, but we have, it seems, hunkered down in camps, continuing to point fingers at one another, calling one another names, and blaming one another for the situation that we find ourselves in.
Has that approach been helping? It doesn’t seem to be, neither does pointing blame at governmental leaders, previous or present, who can’t seem to get on the same page either.
We find ourself fussing and fuming at each other, sinking further and further into anger, depression, and hopelessness.
But friends, we are not a people without hope. We have merely momentarily put our hope in the wrong things.
Our hope is not in our personal rights, our own self-righteousness, our rule-following, or our resistance to rules. Our hope is not in the CDC, and it’s not in the Republican or Democratic party. It’s not in Biden or Trump. It’s not in a face mask or a vaccine or a booster.
No, our hope is in God, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Could He not, in the blink of an eye, eradicate Covid from the face of the earth?
Could He not do this without a vaccine or masks or social distancing?
Could He also use a pandemic to bring us back to Him?
Will we let Him?
What would that look like?
Would a return to God look like name-calling, blaming, and judging?
I’m guessing not.
I’ve been struggling with this. In fact, this very blog started out as a rant against those who would not be vaccinated, those who would not wear a mask, those who, in my opinion, seem to be carelessly walking around spreading the virus. I feel angry sometimes because I am trying to do what is right for the sake of my family, my community, and our country, and I feel that not everyone else is doing the same. I blame them. I call them names. I judge them.
“Can’t you see,” I yell, “we are in the middle of a pandemic! And you are only making it worse!”
And what impact does all my yelling, blaming, and judging have? I end up angrier, more discouraged, and feeling like there is no hope.
But, friends, we are not a people without hope.
We are not.
So, I am going to try, really I am, to turn my gaze away from those I’d like to blame and move it toward the One who is able to make all things new.
I am going to stop pointing fingers, calling names, and shouting accusations, and I am going to instead lift my hands to the One who can put an end to the pandemic, can put an end to the divisions, can soften our hearts, and can restore our hope.
He’s managed plagues and famines and wars and all manner of evil that people have inflicted on one another. This pandemic is not too much for Him.
It’s only taken me two years [and 32 coronavirus diaries] to come to this realization; I’m sorry to those of you who got there before me.
Don’t get me wrong — I’d still like ya’all to get vaccinated, wear a mask, and stay away from crowds at least until this latest surge is over, but if you don’t, I’m going to try not to make any assumptions about you. I am going to do my best to love you.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13