The Silence

For everything there is an appointed time,

and an appropriate time for every activity on earth: …

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; …

a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5b, 7b

I’ve been struck mute.

I know you’ve noticed.

I know I promised to count the Agains of Lent.

I tried.

I’ve even come here and written an entire blog post. When I went to save it — I received a weird error and the entirety of my comments were wiped out. I didn’t even cry.

It just seemed like another loss in the midst of our grief.

In the silence the birds have been really loud. Almost like they have little megaphones. I thought at first it was because they were happy about rain and surfacing worms. I soon realized that the world is a lot less noisy as the traffic has died down, and the people have gone into their houses and shut the doors.

The bright spot has been my birthday present from my friend Dana, a new birdfeeder, and I hung it up outside the window where I work, so I can see my feathered friends and a few opportunistic squirrels have a snack.

My new bird feeder from Dana. ❤

Right around the time of Ash Wednesday, a pandemic that had been brewing in Asia started sweeping the world. I was in Salt Lake City for a conference when I received news that a conference planned for Paris, France was going to be put on hold and was eventually cancelled. As soon as my feet touched the ground here in Dallas on March 3, a whirlwind of activity began to sweep me up on my job and in our lives.

March would eventually see the cancellation of large gatherings and then small gatherings until we could only see the people in our households. The news would become dire in New York and Seattle and Los Angeles and New Orleans following Mardi Gras as the virus took its toll on health care systems the world over.

We mourned as Italy began reporting deaths and isolation and exhaustion. Gratefully, the virus deaths have been lower in the past two weeks. And, sending us warnings that it was headed our way.

Keck was sent home to work for his disaster assistance job. We have to self isolate until mid-next-week because three people in his office had tested positive for COVID-19.

Shelter-in-place rules have kept us home. We haven’t been in the car in 10 days. We’ve ordered groceries online, had virtual dinner parties, seen more neighbors from a distance than in our entire 18 years living at this address on lunchtime walks through the neighborhood.

It broke my heart to see Moss Park covered in crime tape. Yet, physical distancing is what’s going to flatten the curve for all of us.

Here in Dallas, the county judge is suggesting we’ll have to do this through May 20, and possibly longer.

We’re trying to flatten the curve. Trying to make sure we don’t overwhelm our medical system and endanger the most fragile among us. We know that the majority of us won’t get sick, won’t need a ventilator to breath, won’t need extra medicine or care.

And, we’re fortunate to live in the world today — where we can work from home. A world in which our basic necessities include access to high-speed internet service.

For many of us, boredom is starting to set in. We’re running out of projects to do, and television isn’t pacifying us like it once did.

Make no mistake this pandemic is taking a toll on our frontline heroes. Those nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, maintenance technicians, grocery workers, delivery personnel, cashiers, gas stations, and millions of our society who keep us going every single day wish they could trade places with you, with me.

A little boredom, bring it on. A little nothing to do, please! A little time with my family, what a blessing!

(Here’s a story about how New York is thanking its frontline workers.)

During this time, it’s been a little like when my nephew was in Afghanistan. During those years, I was awoken many times in the night to pray. That is happening to me again. I keep having to get up, walk around the house and pray, pray myself to sleep, try to remember all the suffering and all the help that’s needed and now. Call the names. Bring the people to God.

Always rejoice, constantly pray, in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice that spring is busting out all over the place. We even planted a garden in the frontyard so we could see if we could grow food instead of flowers.

Squash, cauliflower, lettuce, and onions. Food instead of flowers. Hope!

Give thanks for the millions of people who are keeping us going. Always.

Constantly pray for scientific answers and breakthroughs, the people treating the disease and making sure the rest of us are fed. Pray for your friends and for your family. Pray for the strength of those who are making masks for those who are most at risk.

Give a little money to your favorite charities. Get by on a little less.

There are agains in this.

We’ll eat at our favorite restaurants, again. We’ll worship together, again. We’ll cheer on our favorite team, again. We’ll get to see art, music, performance, dance, opera, plays, again.

A huge again is coming.

The words are coming again. I probably won’t be able to shut up. Because I’m convinced: We will see the hand of the Lord in the land of the living. ❤