I finally ventured out yesterday. I have been making the trek, back and forth to work, with little deviation. As a person who works with seniors, I have given the responsibility of most of the errands to my husband. I do not want to be the person who brings the virus to work. Yesterday, though, I wanted to pick a few things up before I went home. I wasn’t prepared.
I was surprised to see a line in front of the pet store as I drove by. I had seen that company’s assertion that it would stay open throughout the crisis and I hadn’t really thought too much about it. In fact, before things really started shutting down, the kids and I had gone and bought a hamster(!) and I suppose I will have to return to the store before too long for litter and hamster food. (They don’t sell that at the grocery store, do they?)
When I finally reached my destination, I was no longer surprised to see the line. I am no longer shocked to see a security guard controlling the flow of customers entering and exiting the store. I wasn’t even surprised to see a medical mask on his face. I have become accustomed to the seriousness of the people shopping, the employee standing in the entrance of the store encouraging everyone who enters to use the hand sanitizer they provide. We no longer greet each other with a smile or nod. We are about serious business.
By the time I got to the checkout, after standing on a number of taped “x”s, properly distanced from the person in front and behind me, I had to wait for an employee to wipe down the counter and bank machine keypad before I could put my items down in front of a gloved cashier who was standing as far away from me as physically possible. I then had to return to a “safe area” behind a physical barrier to pay for my transaction.
When will the chaos stop?
I am trying to play by the rules. My kids have barely been outside in weeks. My husband and I go to work, runs errands and return in the shortest possible time. Unfortunately, I cannot maintain physical distance from the people I work with. It isn’t possible in my line of work. Instead I get to take my temperature every morning, I sanitize my phone and wash my hands so often that my wrists are red and irritated all the while it feels like I am losing my feeble grasp on sanity.
I am a touchy person. When I start to get overwhelmed at work, a colleague of mine will often pull me into a corner, talk it out with me then finish it all with a hug. That works for me. It gives me a physical release of stress that enables me to press on with everything I need to do. I don’t believe I am the only one who is like this. A number of my co-workers need the touch of a caring hand to press on. And believe me when I tell you that we are really having to press on. Stresses are rising. Patience is waning. Small irritations are growing into major ones. Houses that were once big enough are shrinking by the day.
To top it off, I read a news article that said that medical students are being asked to step up and join in the fight to stop this. My medical student. My doctor daughter. I think something in me silently snapped. My brother is a doctor and I have been hearing about the steps he has been taking to protect himself and his family. I am immensely proud of the work my daughter has put into becoming a paediatrician. It finally occurred to me about the sacrifice that she and her family will have to make. I don’t think I have been especially naive but I never really thought she would have to be in harm’s way as acutely as I do now.
In the middle of all this is a simple reflection.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord,
”My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For He will deliver you from the snare of the Fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you;
no plague come near your tent.
For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against the stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
”Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows My Name.
When he calls to Me, I will answer him;
I will protect him because he knows My name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation.”
Psalm 91 ESV (emphasis added)
My husband reminded me of this passage when the first ripples of this virus started. A friend reminded me of it again this past week.
Some people may think I have lost it— believing that God will save me, my family, my friends even though death crouches all around us, seeking the weak. I will not be naive but I also know where my hope lies and of that I am certain.
I can only do what I can do to protect myself and those I love. I don’t hold a lot of power in this. But I place myself in the hands of my Almighty Father God who knows, who can deliver and who holds my future in His hands.
When I make God the centre, the pivot point, of my life instead of the a deity on the fringes, my life-focus changes. The problems that once seemed to overtake me are not as overwhelming.
Does that mean I won’t get sick? Does that mean I will run foolishly into compromising situations? There are no guarantees in life. Just because I believe that God can do anything doesn’t mean that He will intercede every time something threatens me. I have faith, though, that He will walk with me wherever He calls me to go.
So in the amidst of the chaos I will keep reminding my heart that my Father God is my refuge and my strength and that is enough.
Is He your refuge today?