2020 has not been kind so far.
As I write this I’m sitting in my living room as my daughter naps. My wife is sitting on the couch next to me, creating art on her iPad. We’ve been home for two weeks, sheltering in place. Kourtney’s hours have been reduced to zero for at least another six weeks– you can’t really put on plays and musicals when all the people in your state are supposed to be social distancing. As a result, she’s home everyday, and I get to eat all of her lovely bakes because surprise, I am also home. My organization is considered an “essential business” because it provides services to the homeless and other marginalized communities, but my job specifically is non-essential so I am working from home most days unless they need me to support our front line departments serve meals, or create hygiene kits. I’m lucky, I’m getting paid. I haven’t lost my job. I now get to navigate working from home with a toddler who frankly doesn’t appreciate that I keep looking at my computer and not her.
This is our life in the middle of a pandemic.
If I’m honest, I’m pretty scared. Every time I leave the house, I get anxious. I don’t leave very often, usually for short walks around the block. But today I had an onsite shift for work– assembling breakfast boxes for our clients. It was a short shift, and I spent most of it adding piping-hot hardboiled eggs into each takeout box, over and over and over. Eight hundred boxes. But the night before it took me hours to get to sleep, I laid there with my eyes closed but my mind spinning, thinking about how I should prepare for the shift, how I should bring my ear buds instead of my over-ear headphones because I wouldn’t be bringing a bag, because I didn’t want to put my bag on the ground or on a shelf or on a desk, because any surface that’s not in my house is no longer safe. I placed my hand on my daughter’s back, just to check her breathing one more time. She’s not sick. I just wanted to make sure she was okay. I worried about what we would do if she did get sick. I thought about what Kourtney should do if I get sick and have to be hospitalized. Call my mother, then call my boss and let her know I won’t be logging in for awhile.
And then I prayed. In general, I’m at a place in my spiritual journey where I’m conscious of how much I ask of God. I don’t want to be too needy, I don’t want to be one of those people who is constantly praying for things and not bothering to do what needs to be done for their prayers to be realized. God is not a genie, the Creator doesn’t grant wishes. And I have been trying to be more grateful for things in general– for instance I often say prayers of thanks for keeping the spiders in the area outside of my house so I can sleep easy, as I have an intense fear of them. I’ve noticed how few I’ve seen in this house and I’m sure there are logical reasons for this, and it’s not a particularly dramatic divine intervention, but it has had a deep, positive impact on my life. I often say prayers of thanks for bringing my daughter into my life. I feel lucky to be her mommy, blessed that I was chosen to raise her with Kourtney. Kourtney is a blessing. So I give thanks for what I have.
But in times of trouble, I do ask for God to keep us safe. I’ve found myself pleading, please, let this virus pass us by. And the correlation to Passover is not lost on me, by the way. As we come together (over Zoom) to tell the story of the Hebrews who escaped from Egypt, and we get to the part about the tenth plague, will it put a chill down my spine? Thinking about how the plague passed over the houses with the blood of a lamb on their doorposts… what do I need to sacrifice, so that this will pass us by?
I feel quite dramatic, but in these trying times it feels warranted. People are getting sick, they’re dying. This virus keeps spreading. And I feel like what is keeping me going is prayer. If I pray enough, and I allow myself to have faith in the power of prayer, then things will be okay. And that’s all I really have, because nothing about this is within my control. It is the most terrifying time to “let go and let God”, and yet here we are. I can wash my hands all day long, sanitize all the surfaces in my home, stay inside for the foreseeable future, and I still don’t know if it will be enough.
So I pray, and I wait. That’s my new life in the time of coronavirus.