How can I describe the times we are experiencing? Where do I start, and what is worth saying? Who dreamed that our world would have turned upside down so suddenly and violently?

We are getting “cabin fever” from sheltering in place. We are ready to have this nightmare behind us and resume our usual schedules. We’ve been forced to put our lives on hold. My friends postponed their daughter’s wedding and aren’t sure when it will happen. We cancelled our family vacation in June. My son canceled his long-awaiting trip to Paris with his wife. My wife and I cancelled plans to purchase a home after moving into a rental house a few months ago—and we are not sure how to proceed. Going out to dinner with my wife, friends or family is a fuzzy memory of something we used to do. We went to our house in Fayetteville over the weekend and took a walk through campus and town. It was surreal, a ghost town. We saw very few people on the streets, walking or in cars. We ordered food at Doe’s and the owner talked about how hard Dixon street businesses had been hit. Some of them are not likely to be able to return to business at all. I am frustrated about being unable to watch my favorite sports on TV: St Louis Cardinal’s baseball games, Razorback basketball, baseball, and, this fall, football games; NBA basketball games, and NFL football games. I’m tired of watching nonstop news coverage of the pandemic—and, it’s depressing!

Yet, with all of this disruption and inconvenience, I reflect on the things that are still good and for which I’m thankful. I have enough money, a safe house to live in, a chance to spend extra time with my wife and family. I am thankful that I was able get through knee replacement surgery right before the pandemic hit, and that I’ve recovered nicely. I’m thankful that I have good health, and can take walks and bike rides daily. And I’m thankful for my family. That my youngest has a delightful infant son and is showing herself to be an all-star mother. I’m thankful that my oldest daughter has brightened at the prospect of having her physician husband at home more often and they are forging a new, attractive partnership. I’m thankful that my 3rd son is able to team up with his wife to home school and entertain their rambunctious family of four kids during this tumult. And, there’s a lot more I could list…

But, also I reflect with sorrow and regret, the lives that are lost, the terror of the patients who lie in beds, on ventilators for life support, not knowing whether or not they’ll survive as they fight for air or resist the urge to fight against the assistance of the machines. I reflect on the front line health care workers (yes, I’m also one of these but not currently working in the hospital) who show up daily, putting their lives at risk and many of them also becoming infected with the virus; and some also losing their lives; and remember that they took a vow to do what was necessary, at whatever the cost, to serve their patients. And I think that is modern day picture of ‘agape’ love; for which there is none greater.

And, in the end, there can be no doubt that a time like this strips all of the superficial cares and concerns away and reminds of us what endures and what fades away. May our love and appreciation of those good things: family, relationships, the joy of helping others, encouragement, and health to name a few be the antidote to the sadness and anxiety we feel during this dark time.

Take care of one another and we will get through this!