This is not what I expected my first week as a truly retired man to be like. No celebrations, plays or dinners out with friends. Just the same routine day after day.
I walk five miles every day as soon as I get up. At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic I would listen to a mixture of world news and business news. At some point I realized that hours of mental stimulation over things I could not control was not healthy for me.
Today is the first day I did not listen to any news station before the evening news came on. I did not know how the stock market was doing until the closing bell had already rung. I listened to music, did some work, read the local newspaper, and had a good lunch on our front porch. It was a good day.
There are some terrifying things happening in our world today. Apart from World War II, almost nothing has touched our entire world in such a universally negative way. Most of us have never experienced the economic devastation that was so widespread during the Great Depression.
An unseen enemy that targets everyone. No existing cure or vaccine. An unprepared healthcare system. Too many images showing the challenges in the worst hit areas. It is easy to slip into despair, especially those without a good support system.
Perhaps the hardest thing we are being asked to do is stay in our homes. We cannot visit our loved ones, neighbors or friends. For us personally, the hardest thing is not being able to hug and comfort our grandchildren.
However, during this moment in time there are some wonderful and heartwarming things happening. A neighbor we had not met brought us some banana nut bread. I wonder how she could have known that is one of Mary Lou’s favorites.
We have talked, from safe distance of course, with almost everyone in our neighborhood. We are blessed to live on a street that has literally hundreds of people passing by each day walking their dogs, riding bikes, or just taking a stroll. Our front porch has become our go to place, much like I might have imagined homes in the 1950s.
We have had a virtual cocktail party with friends and tonight Mary Lou’s book club will meet online for the very first time. Mary Lou completed the first jigsaw puzzle we have done in years. There is now a shortage of puzzles on Amazon as people search for ways to deal with the extra time on their hands
We have a message group with our grandchildren where each day we must take a picture showing what they are going to bring to grandmother’s house, just like the word game we played as kids. I must admit it is more fun to do it with a camera. A different picture each day and the object must begin with the letter of the day. Tomorrow’s letter is B. I cannot wait to see what pictures they share with the group.
You can feel the world slowing down and not all of that is bad. We are reaching out to those we never noticed before.
We are grateful for the heroes that surround us. From all the brave souls on the front lines to the unknown individual that volunteers to take meals to an elderly shut in.
It is important that we focus on the good things happening all around us. The goodness of man will overcome this evil virus.
I am particularly struck by the ways that our places of faith have adapted during this social-distancing time of separation. Usually during times of crisis, we flock to church and gain strength through our prayers and leaning on each other. Even that has been taken away from us.
In its place, we are now able to watch church services from near and far. I watched the service from Donalsonville and from Auburn on Sunday, right from the comfort of my front porch. I said the Apostle’s Creed, prayed the Lord’s Prayer, and said Amen at the end of the service. I am certain that God heard every prayer just as clearly as if we were in our Sunday finest on the regular pew.
It is perhaps one of the things that you as an individual can do while you stay at home. Pray for the scientists working for a cure. Pray for the doctors and nurses, firemen and policemen, and all the many others working to keep our world turning during these difficult times.
Pray for your families and friends, and do not forget to pray for yourself. Pray for patience. Look for the silver linings in your life. Find joy where you can. This is just a moment in time. We must make the most of what we have.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org