The above expresses my attitude about the pandemic at this particular time. I’ve been telling people that I have had a hard time getting my thinking around the Corona. I’ve been able to do that with Donald Trump and other tragedies, but not with this pandemic. I think that explains why the crisis is always on my mind and threatens to activate my depression.
Every day the hole gets a little deeper. Some states order everyone inside; more news about the lack of protective gear and ventilators; suggestions that we could have been more prepared. It’s hard to see the good news anywhere. I live in a small town in a very large Arizona county. We just received word a day or two ago that we have our first confirmed case of the virus. It’s relentless and it’s getting to me.
I have plenty of support. I have income. I’m relatively healthy. But there is no guarantee that this virus won’t get me and/or someone I love. No guarantee. So, I live with this heaviness that, though not incapacitating, does affect me in a way that I don’t like-in a way that has me off my game, that chips away at my joy.
David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times and a conservative that I like, he wrote a column recently titled, “Screw the Virus.” I saw that and I read it on the spot, while I waited for the Safeway deli worker to slice up some cheese and salami. I found what he had to say so refreshing. He pushed back at the havoc this virus has wrought and tried to reclaim his life. He didn’t argue that social distancing was stupid or that we shouldn’t stay home, but he did say that the virus has had the result of reminding us all, those of us who inhabit this planet, that we are far more interconnected than we know and that we better by god start acting like it. Folks, I can get behind that sentiment. When Brooks said “Screw the Virus” I read that as a call to push back against a force that would turn temporary quarantines into permanent isolations. That we can not let happen. To resist that permanent aftermath, I say as loudly and as clearly as I can:
Fuck the Corona!
We are weeks and weeks into this thing and now that some of the original shock has waned, people are expressing their stress in public situations. Our lives have been disrupted and some handle that unsettling by lack of patience and negativity toward others. It’s tempting to let happen, to let this terribly confusing, uncontrollable, and unpredictable pandemic wreak havoc on us even if we have little risk of contracting its illness. Fuck the Corona and its potential to divide us, to put us at odds with one another. Fuck the Corona and instead of belligerence because the supermarket is out of something deemed necessary, consider the heroics of the health care workers who go to work every day and risk exposure on our behalf. Fuck the Corona and instead of perpetuating a rumor that the military is taking over the country, appreciate that law enforcement, ambulance services, and firefighters continue to serve and protect.
I belong to the Episcopal Church which I serve as a priest. Our national and diocesan leadership deemed it necessary to suspend worship in all Episcopal churches at this time. That decision troubled me. I understand that it was made out of a concern for people’s health, but Christians have gathered together for two millennia, sometimes at great risk-greater even than what the Corona poses- and have prayed, worshipped, and supported one another. My family and I, with my bishop’s go ahead, have decided to Fuck the Corona and hold eucharist in our backyard this Sunday morning. People will maintain social distancing. We will share the peace without touching each other and I will distribute communion to individuals without their handling the bread or cup.
I want to hear from people I care about and have them share about God in their lives. I want people to gather together as believers and articulate to me how that belief makes a difference for them as they face this trouble. I need to hear from them to be encouraged, to not lose my shit, to remember that the faith I share with those who make it to our home is supposed to be relevant and helpful.
I suppose the gathering is riskier than staying home. I think the risk is tolerable given the precautions we will use, but still, it’s elevated. A greater risk than contracting the Corona exists. For me, if I don’t have human ‘contact’, if I don’t hear from others how they move forward, how they practice love, how they live with the possibility of their illness and/or death, then I am less likely to be the person I feel called to be and the Corona has fucked me.
I don’t want that to happen. I want to live my life fully, with joy and happiness, and in love with the good while I resist the bad. I don’t want the damn virus and I certainly don’t want to give it to anyone. Let’s hope I don’t. In the meantime, Fuck you, Corona. You may take me, but with the support of my friends and family and with God’s help, you won’t turn me into somebody I’m not.