This morning I’m sitting at our dining room table amazed at how quickly life can change. Not even two weeks ago I was in Nashville, giving away ARCs of These Nameless Things, hanging with friends, having the ashes placed on my forehead and, eyes closed, listening to the priest say those words that suddenly have even deeper meaning:
From dust you have been made, and to dust you shall return.
Now we sit quietly in our house. Poppy and Leo bury Playmobil characters in kinetic sand. Sam sits at the end of the table, reading. Cade and Lucy and Abra are still sleeping. Maile returns later this evening from a solo writer’s retreat she’s been on for three days at The Black Barn, working hard on her middle grade novels. I imagine we won’t be leaving the house much for at least the next two weeks—school has been canceled, church services suspended. But we have plenty of food, and I can work from home. Only two of the eight of us have suffered from asthma in the past, so we are mostly low-risk. We are so, so blessed.
I spoke with a friend yesterday who works for a company in the travel industry. It was his responsibility to call 75 drivers and let them know that their business has declined 95%. He was tasked with talking with these drivers and determining who needed work the most. Many of them graciously bowed out, saying they could get by without the work, insisting he give any remaining drives to those who needed the work the most. Others said they live week to week. They’re not sure what they’ll do without the work.
In these times of great uncertainty, there will be opportunities for us to exhibit great kindness. For some of us, this might only mean staying home as much as possible so as not to aid the spread of the virus. For others of us, business owners, it might mean being generous in a way that hurts our pocketbooks. For still others, it might mean being merciful when collecting what is due to us. Or sharing our paper towels. Or checking in on a friend with a quick text message or FaceTime call.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
So, today we will sit down together while Lucy plays some music on her guitar. I’ll encourage the kids to write at least a page in their journal. We’ll mark time playing video games and card games and fighting over silly things. I’ll try not to watch the news too much.
In many ways, this is a different world from the one we were living in a week ago, a month ago. But in other ways, it is not so different—we are still all called to think of others before ourselves, to practice mercy and kindness and grace, to replace the toilet paper roll if we use the last of it.
I love you all. Be safe. Be kind.