This is a special edition of the Friday roundup. Here are five things worth paying attention to (or thinking about) amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
1. Think about your yourself
The saying about fixing your own flotation device or air mask before helping another person is essential. For those of us who are better “human doings” than “human beings,” we can run ourselves ragged before we realize we’re slowing down and need help. Take a moment in your day to breathe and check in with how you’re feeling. Take care of your essential needs. If you feel good, you’re fine to move on to “doing.” If you feel run-down, sick or tired, maybe all the cancellations mean a time of rest for you. Remember, you’re only a help to other people if you’ve first helped yourself. Go wash your hands.
2. Think about your loved ones
If you’re set to go yourself, think about your loved ones, be they family or friends. Does anyone live alone? Do you have older family members? Does anyone in your circle have a compromised immune system? Offer to grab some groceries, prescriptions or necessities for them so they don’t need to go out in public. Help them figure out how to do some things online if technology doesn’t come easy for them. Also, wash your hands.
3. Think about your church family
For pastors, now is a time to get creative with pastoral care. Think about showering folks in assisted living facilities with cards. Instead of an email or text, make a phone call. Work at live-streaming your worship services. If your church isn’t able to do that, find churches that are and recommend your church have a watch party (gathered in your own separate homes, that is). I know this is both stressful in its complication and exciting in its possibilities. Remember that this is the new normal “for now,” and that the Spirit moves regardless. Take the time to wash your hands.
4. Think about your community
With lots of cancellations and closures, it’s folks with the fewest resources who are often left behind. Do you own or know of a local restaurant that could provide meals to quarantined elderly or low-income folks? Have access to a lot of resources that could be given away? Maybe your home could be a home away from home for a college student unable to leave the dorms. We are called on to give generously as Christ has generously given to us. If you are rich in materials or care, you are responsible to share with those in this time of need. Now go wash your hands.
5. What’s helpful, what’s harmful?
Second-, third- and fourth-hand information abounds in times of crisis. We hear things anecdotally, or from an unreliable source, or we read something that’s not peer reviewed and we can sometimes end up spreading rumors and false statements unintentionally. Sensational news might seem “fun” to talk about, but it can lead to very dire consequences when tensions are high. Give a few minutes to think about what you’re saying and how it might be helpful or harmful in a time like this. But seriously, please wash your hands.
Joanne Gallardo is pastor of faith formation at Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen, Indiana.