Something to Think About
For weeks I have heard people saying, “I just can’t wait for things to be back to normal.” I even remember saying that a few times myself. But as I’ve thought about our current situation, I have realized how much I don’t want things to go back to the way they were. Here are a few of my thoughts:
- I pray that the next time a friend grabs me and pulls me in for a hug, I actually take the time to appreciate the gift of their embrace.
- I pray that when school resumes and you are dropping your kids off, you take the time to thank the staff for the amazing gift that they give to your family.
- I pray that the next time I’m sitting in a crowded restaurant, I take the time to look around at the smiling faces and loud voices and thank God for the gift of community.
- I pray that the next time I’m standing in church listening to the voices of praise and receiving Holy Communion that I take a moment to thank God for the gift of the congregation.
- I pray that the next time I see a person or situation that needs prayer, I will pray as passionately and fervently as I have these past few weeks.
- I pray that when I am at the grocery store I will take a moment to thank God that he provides us with the necessities of life and the amazing people who work so hard to keep us supplied.
- I pray that I will never again take for granted the ability to hop in the car and visit a friend, go to the mall, go to a movie, etc.
So, the truth is, I don’t want things to return to the way they once were. I pray that we take the lessons and challenges of the past few weeks and create a new normal. My goal is to pray more, love harder, and truly appreciate the daily abundance of blessings that were so easily overlooked just a few weeks ago. If someone tells you they love you, take it to heart!
— Anonymous Email
If you need to talk, or if you need someone to listen or to let you cry, I am available. Email is the fastest way to reach me while the office is closed (email@example.com) but a voice message will get to me.
Here is a reflection by Bishop Barron on the virus crisis that I found comforting:
Food for Thought
The official lockdown started on March 23 and was to end May 1. That is exactly forty days. The Latin root of the word “quarantine” is “forty.” So what does the Bible say about the number forty?
- The flood lasted forty days
- Moses fled Egypt and lived in Midian for forty years.
- Moses stayed on Mount Sinai for forty days to receive the commandments.
- Exodus lasted forty years.
- Jesus fasted for forty days.
- The optimum number of weeks for human gestation is forty.
A group of theologians thinks the number forty represents “change.” Whenever the number forty appears in the Bible, there is a change. It is the time of preparing a person, or people, to make a fundamental change. Something will happen after these forty days. Just believe and pray.
Know that during this “quarantine” rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is growing, the air is becoming cleaner because of less pollution, there is less theft and murder, healing is happening, and most importantly, people are turning to Christ. The earth is at rest for the first time in many years, and hearts are truly transforming.
We are in the year 2020, and 20 + 20 = 40. Also, 2020 is the year of the United States Census. Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, was born during a census.
And 2020 is perfect vision. May our sight focus on the Lord and living according to his perfect vision for us, knowing he holds us in the palm of his hand. May these days of “quarantine” bring spiritual liberation to our souls, our nation, and our world.
Masks and social distancing may be bothersome, but they are necessary. When people started congregating in 1918, the flu again ran rampant in a strong second wave. Let’s keep that from happening in this virus crisis.
Headspace web service is a collection of meditation, sleep, and movement exercises designed to help you keep a strong and healthy mind. It’s free to Michiganders (normally it is a paid service). Visit headspace.com/mi.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7 to anyone in a suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-8255. Please reach out for help if you are feeling depressed or worried about hurting yourself or someone else. Your life, all life, is precious. You are needed and wanted.
Coronavirus Cabin Fever
- The virus crisis we find ourselves in is serious, but it is a time to remain calm and not panic.
- Testing saves lives by preventing the next infections, not by treating the person testing positive.
- Treating those infected promptly works when there is an effective drug with which to treat the disease.
- The coronavirus, however, has no treatment.
- The rapidly progressing lung failure that can result from COVID-19 infection is a familiar clinical condition caused by a number of infections. Intensive care specialists have been treating this for years.
- Therefore, the goal in testing is to isolate those with the disease to prevent it from spreading.
- Social distancing, or staying out of crowds, is also a way of preventing the spread.
What you can do:
- Get enough sleep.
- Stay hydrated.
- Eat healthy, balanced meals.
- Keep kids in a routine: some daily reading and study time, meals, and bedtime.
- Limit screen time.
- Play outside in your yard with your kids: frisbee, tag, flag football, soccer, ride bikes, etc. Fresh air is good, just not in groups.
- Try to maintain a positive attitude. No one can reliably predict how long the virus will remain a danger, but it will end, and we will go on. God loves us. Pray for our people, our country, for all those affected worldwide, and for those who have died.
- We have a number of parishioners who would love to receive notes or phone calls during this crisis. If you would like to help, please let me know and I will get information to you.
A five-year-old girl, whose parents are both first responders, has died of the virus. An actor in California has lost a leg. A twenty-eight-year-old mom is on a ventilator. Coronavirus is a silent killer. It is very contagious. You may be chafing at the stay at home restrictions, but even though the hospitalization rate in Michigan may be slowing, the infection rate in Ottawa County is rising. The virus is still dangerous. Please stay home and stay safe, for yourself and for others. It is not convenient, but it is necessary to get the spread under control.
God bless and keep you, Pat
Quarantined but Cool, Calm, and Collected
Sound impossible? Challenging, yes, but workable. Plan a workable daily schedule for you and one for your kids. Kids are looking to the adults in their lives to be the calm in this storm of uncertainty and forced isolation. Here are some suggestions:
- Lower your expectations: Plans will break down, fights will break out, patience will wear thin, and it will be challenging. If all that is lost is a temper now and then, that is a win.
- Sleep is critical! The best thing for maintaining emotional stability is to get enough sleep: everyone.
- Eat regular, balanced meals, and stay hydrated. This will prevent the entire family from melting into a tired, dehydrated, low blood sugared, over caffeinated, hangry mess.
- Move regularly: kids and parents. Do something that gets your heart rate up: long walks, online yoga, dancing, backyard pickup games of Frisbee or tag, and running/walking circuits around the yard are some possibilities.
No one is used to this much forced time together. We all need regular breaks from one another, hourly or three times a day:
- Meditation/mindfulness: Try the Insight Time and Ten Percent Happier apps.
- Intentional breathing: It slows down the nervous system and calms us down, sending your body messages that right now, things are OK. Breath prayers are great for this.
- Fresh air: get some. Go outside or open a window. It may still be a bit chilly out, but a few minutes will help.
- Whatever you enjoy: an ongoing jigsaw puzzle, a piece of special chocolate, a cup of herbal tea, a special song.
- Stretch it out: Where do you feel tension? Stretching exercises are available on the web.
- Tag team with your partner to give each other and the kids breaks during the day. If you are alone with the kids, let The Wild Kratts occupy the kids while you regather yourself.
Get to know your triggers, what causes your cool to go south fast. When you sense one, stop for a few seconds, then run up and down the hall, do some jumping jacks, or sing at the top of your lungs for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths, say a prayer, or do some backward shoulder rolls/neck circles.
If you have lost it, after you have had time to calm down completely, apologize to your kids. This helps them remember that mom and dad are human, and not afraid to admit when they make a mistake or lose their cool. We aren’t perfect, but we keep trying. We will all get through this; we are all in the same boat. But there is a rainbow coming, hang on for it. (Katie Rope, Washington Post)
If you need to talk, please contact me. During the quarantine email is best: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pax domini, Pat
“Fear not” appears 170 times in the King James Version of the Bible. God realizes that, as humans, it is natural for us to fear, or be afraid, of things we don’t understand, or that we cannot see, touch, smell, or taste. Our instinct tells us to be afraid, and thus we panic. But God is telling us, “be not afraid.” He goes before, and with us, always.
Humans are social animals; we crave being around others. But right now, we need to try to remain healthy by isolating ourselves from others with whom we don’t normally live in the same quarters. We need to protect ourselves and each other by frequent hand washing and cleaning. So for now, we are alone, but that does not mean we can’t be connected. Zoom, Facetime, Netflix parties, email, Skype, Facebook, texting, and actually using a phone to call someone else are all ways to remain connected.
With social distancing and staying home, there has been an increase in alcohol sales. Alcohol is a depressant, physically and mentally, so those already prone to depression or sadness may find those feelings worsened by drinking. Anxiety can also be increased by alcohol intake, as it interferes with sleep quality, and managing stress is harder without good sleep. Please manage your fear and anxiety by staying connected and taking walks or bike rides. And turn off the TV and other media. Their job is to sell, so any change in data is ramped up and repeated over and over to the point of manufacturing fear.
Take positive actions: make a list of all accounts and their passwords, review life insurance policies, update your will/trust, and discuss with your healthcare power of attorney what your wishes about care are should you happen to get sick. Clean out closets, cupboards, pantries, freezers, and garages. Make a corner for bags of items to be donated when this virus crisis is over.
The need for enhanced senior services has grown with the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Michigan, and the state has received an increase in funding for home-delivered meals for those over age sixty. Eligible residents who are sixty and older can receive home-delivery or pick-up meals during the outbreak. The form is at this link. Seniors can also request daily wellness-check phone calls.
Younger coronavirus patients make up 40% of Michigan cases, and they have the potential to spread the illness before developing symptoms. So please, everyone, stay home, use social distancing when you need to be out, and ask for help if you feel anxious, extra sad, or depressed.
We are all collectively grieving right now: for those who have died, for those who have lost loved ones, for the job losses, for the security we knew before. There have been so many changes in such a short time. It is normal to be sad. But loneliness, and shutting others out, makes depression worse. Yes, we must use social distancing and clean and wash. But remain connected to others every day. We will come through this. He is with us. We will make it.
Barton Goldsmith, www.mlive.com
In God We Trust
We are in untested waters, surrounded by a force unseen by the naked eye, but deadly. But we are not alone. God is with us. He will never leave us. We are safe in his arms. Stay home, stay well. Have faith. We will get through this.
Thank you to an anonymous source for this:
It was March 2020…
The streets were empty, the shops were closed, people couldn’t go out.
But the spring didn’t know, and the flowers started to bloom, the sun was shining,
the birds were singing, the swallows would soon arrive, the sky was blue, the morning came earlier.
It was March 2020…
Young people had to study online, and find occupations at home,
people could no longer go shopping, or go to the hairdresser.
Soon there would be no more room in hospitals, and people kept getting sick.
But spring didn’t know, the time to go to the garden was coming, the grass was turning green.
It was March 2020…
People were put in confinement to protect grandparents, families, and children.
No more reunions, no more meals, no more family celebrations.
The fear became real and the days were the same.
But spring didn’t know, apple trees, cherry trees, and others blossomed, leaves grew.
People started to read, play with their families,
sing on the balcony and invite the neighbors to do the same,
they learned a new language, showed solidarity, and focused on other values.
People realized the importance of health, of suffering, of this world that had stopped,
of the economy that had plummeted.
But spring did not know.
The flowers had given way to fruit, the birds had made their nests, the swallows had arrived.
Then the day of liberation arrived, people learned about it on TV, the virus had lost its way, people took to the streets, singing, crying, kissing their neighbors, without masks or gloves.
And that’s when summer arrived, because spring didn’t know.
It continued to be there in spite of everything, in spite of the virus, fear and death.
Because spring didn’t know, it taught people the power of life.
Everything is going to be all right, stay home, protect yourself, and you will enjoy life.
Read this, spread it by copying and pasting this text, but above all, stay confident and keep smiling.
A terrific breath prayer…
As you slowly breathe in, say “Be still and know.”
As you slowly breathe out, say “that I am God.”
If you are stressed and need someone to listen, or if you have needs that we could possibly help you with, please contact me at email@example.com.
Pat Whitaker, Parish Nurse
COVID-19 is a new virus that is spreading rapidly and erratically. People who have no travel history have become sick, and those who have travelled have remained well. There is a great deal of misinformation being spread. It is normal to be concerned about something that we cannot see and don’t thoroughly understand but that is causing illness.
Facts about COVID-19:
- Currently there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, but one is being tested on human volunteers.
- The best way to stay well is to avoid exposure to this virus.
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person by being in close contact (less than six feet) of an infected person, through respiratory droplets from sneezes and coughs.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people, be inhaled into the lungs, or land on a hand that is then put near eyes, nose, or mouth.
Older adults and people with severe underlying chronic medical conditions (heart or lung disease, diabetes, compromised immune systems, etc.) seem to be at higher risk for the more serious complications from COVID-19. Please consult your healthcare provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least twenty seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, blown your nose, coughed, or sneezed. Remember to wash between your fingers – and to include your thumbs. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (the T zone) with unwashed hands. Avoid people who are sick. If you are sick stay home!
Clean frequently-touched surfaces often (doorknobs, faucet handles, phones, light switches, etc.). Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use one that is appropriate for the surface. Cleaning options include diluted household bleach (five tablespoons or 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water) or four teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Alcohol must be at least 70% alcohol. Follow the instructions for application and ventilation. Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
This is an emerging, rapidly changing situation, and the CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available. The CDC works 24/7 to protect people’s health. More information can be found at these sites:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Ottawa County COVID-19 Response
- West Ottawa Public Schools food for kids
If you would like to talk or get more information, please email Pat Whitaker, our Parish Nurse, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will make it through this. God is on our side. Keep praying and trust in him.