Sunday Salon: Reflections on the Week That Was

I added a new insert into my Midori Passport this week. I felt it was important to document the week, the arrival of the Coronavirus and how it has affected the world in which we live.

These thoughts are only my thoughts, of course, which I recorded for my own memory. My own sorting out. Wakako, of Baum-kuchen, said in her newsletter of March 5: “Whether it’s a messy scribble or neat handwriting makes no difference in the power of writing as long as we keep writing. I hope you write to remember. I hope you write to heal. And I hope you write to dream and grow.”

I share these thoughts from the past week to see if they resemble your thoughts. To share mine. To document a moment in time I have never seen before.

On February 28, I mention the Coronavirus for the first time in my journal, likening it to Stephen King’s novel, The Stand.

On March 10, the news declares more than 80,000 people are infected with the Coronavirus, and Italy has shut down. “It isn’t effecting the U.S. quite so hard,” I write.

On March 13, I learn that Wheaton College has closed. All the students are being sent home; my cousin’s daughter is clearing out her dorm room. The Irish dinner that my sister-in-law and I had been planning for a big family party is cancelled, the Forest Walk at the Morton Arboretum is cancelled, the Wade Center at Wheaton College is cancelled, and even my small book club is cancelled.

On March 14, my husband comes home from grocery shopping at Jewel and tells me the dairy case is empty. No cream. No milk. People are hoarding groceries, and Twitter has clips of women fighting over toilet paper. My son says, “I need more paper towel for my apartment.” “Why?” I ask. “Just use rags and wash them.” “Oh,” he says. “Right. There’s no shortage of laundry detergent.”

On March 15 we stream church service live, and learn that the Leaders’ meeting for Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) must also be streamed on Zoom. Our pastor preaches on John 14: “Let not your heart be troubled.” “Let,” he says, “is a permissive word.” In other words, “Do not allow your heart to be troubled. Don’t give it permission to embrace anxiety.”

My parents go to Whole Foods and bring a carton of cream for me, and a gallon of milk for our elderly neighbor. “There are plenty of things in the grocery stores,” my father says. “You just have to know where to look.” He scorns public distress.

”Self quarantine” has become a common phrase now. Meetings of more than 25 people are forbidden; restaurants, bars, libraries, health clubs are all closed, and Tucker Carlson warns that small businesses will crumble.

I go to have a manicure on March 16, and the shop is almost empty. The girls are dependent on their tips, and so I leave MyMy triple what I usually do, hoping it is somewhat helpful, feeling when I get home that it is not.

President Trump called Sunday, March 15 a National Day of Prayer. Franklin Graham is taking Samaritan’s Purse to Italy to set up a make shift hospital with 68 beds. My sister-in-law who works at Edward Hospital says people are stealing face masks and wipes from the Emergency room.

I go to see Dr. D. for an appointment I had made weeks ago, and I must stand, not sit, in his waiting room. The receptionist is wearing blue plastic gloves as she works at her desk.

At first I felt relieved about so much being cancelled. “Free time to read!” I think. And then, I go to Trader Joe’s, and I’m subdued because shelves are bare. A big sign at the entrance says, “Out of consideration for others, do not take more than two of any one item.”

All kinds of churches are calling for fasting, and I read in my daily Bible reading this verse from Isaiah, reminding us we are to live our fasting with care for one another:

”Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the the naked to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and and the Lord will answer, you will cry for help and He will say Here am I.” ~Isaiah 58:6-9 (ESV)

My mother bakes trays of her oatmeal raisin cookies and takes them to all their neighbors.

The thing is, no one knows how big this pandemic is going to get, or how long it will last. The Edward Fitness Club said ”Closed until March 30.” District 204 has planned e-learning until April 2. But, no one knows if things will be better by then. And, we must face a troubled economy when all this goes away.

On March 20 the streets and shops are virtually empty as people practice terms I’d never heard of a month ago because Governor Pritzger called for Illinois to shut down: #social distancing, #shelter-in-place, #self-quarantine, #life in isolation. As things get more and more restrictive, it is important not to lose hope.

”Meredith,” my father says to me yesterday. “There is a beginning, a middle and an end to everything. This is the beginning of the end (of the virus).” We can only trust that is true, for the saddest thing I heard last night was that hundreds of people in Italy died all alone, as they were required to be in isolation.


These snippets are from my week. I wonder if they resemble anything like yours? I wonder if you will join me in embracing hope, rather than anxiety, trust rather than fear?

Bless you all, Meredith

33 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: Reflections on the Week That Was”

  1. I’m still a work as I’m considered a frontline keyworker because of my work with adults with learning disabilities and other complex needs. Not sure in what role yet because as a Day Service we are closed but will find out on Monday could be contacting those that use our services to check on wellbeing etc or could be supporting in other roles.

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    1. So many people are still required to be at work, and I suppose the good thing(s) about that are how helpful you are to others, and hopefully your cheques will still be coming. My husband works as an IT Director for our county, and he goes in every day. My friend works as a Speech Pathologist in nursing homes, particularly, and she goes in every day. All of you are brave and strong.

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  2. It’s a great idea to write down your thoughts, since this will – hopefully – be a once in a lifetime event. Also, it might help some people to write at a time when the scary news and being in isolation might drive you crazy otherwise.

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    1. Writing has always helped me, somehow. I have boxes of journals with which I have no idea what to do other than keep them in closets and shelves. But, I could easily reference any point in time since…well, for decades. As Wakako said in the quote I included from here in this post, it can help to remember, to heal, and best of all to hope. Don’t go crazy! 🥰

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  3. School stopped in Romania on the 12th of March, till the 23rd of April, after Easter. It’s getting crazy because I fight with myself not to worry, but everybody around me gets carried away in this madness, running after food or medicine. Oh, you were lucky to go to the beautician’s, everything here dealing with getting people together is closed, we are under army rules and starting today, we cannot leave the house unless it is for certain work, foid, medecine or caring for the elderly or your pet. And not more than 3 people walking/going together… Time for reading? Not by a lot more, because I am not in the mood…

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    1. Yes, everything is closed here, too, by now. We can only leave for dire needs, such as food or medicine. My mother said she is unable to concentrate, too. How ironic that we have time to read and cannot do so. However, I am intent on finishing the Booker International Prize 2020 long list no matter what. I’m streaming church, taking walks, and cooking. I’m sending hope and encouragement to you, dear Ally. ❤️

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  4. Your thoughts do sound familiar, and reflecting on how things pass bit by bit seems like a good exercise. The idea that this is the “beginning of the end” of the virus is helpful. So many people are working so hard to make things better: that too is a helpful thought. I am reaching for patience: we are really fortunate, relatively speaking, and can distance or shelter in place with so far only psychological stress to contend with. If we can help by keeping home, that is not too much to ask of us, though I think one thing everyone is finding hard is the look of normalcy around us. We are used to hurricanes or blizzards, that change the landscape!

    Like many people, I have been surprised at how much harder reading has seemed. I think as we accept our new reality this too might settle back into some kind of normalcy. I hope!

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    1. Isn’t it strange how “normal” can change so quickly? My mother would say thst life “spins on a hair”, meanimg we can have a total change of circumstances, or trajectory, in a second. I think that is part of what we’re feeling, but I like how you said “reaching for patience.” And, we are fortunate even in having homes in which to shelter.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your observations and thoughts Meredith. Having always been somewhat of an introvert and now retired, the transition to “shelter-at-home” has not seemed so jarring to this amateur reader. I have discovered it is necessary to limit my intake of news reporting. The onslaught of virus updates can overwhelm at times and I have found that rationing my exposure helps to quell anxiety. Stay safe out there.

    Book Related PS: I am loving the new Hilary Mantel, “The Mirror & the Light”, so far.

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    1. I am very much an introvert, too. And, retired. So, in many ways it wasn’t too bad to “shelter in place.” But, you’re so right about staying away from the news, grocery stores, panic in the outer world. That does nothing for peace or hope. I tried to smile and joke with the people at Jewel, but they were having none of it. I came home quite rattled inside. As for Hillary Mantel, I started her first book and was bored to tears. I’m ready to stsrt over, but I know very little abour Cromwell ans British history. Glad to hear you’re liking it!

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  6. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts – it’s a powerful thing to help us feel we’re all in this together. I think it’s hugely important to keep writing, even when it seems difficult, because words can always connect us even when many other things can’t.

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    1. I think it is greatly encouraging to share our stories together, and not feel so alone in our circumstances. Writing has always been a great outlet for me, in my journals, but I don’t get very personal on my blog anymore. It makes me feel veey vulnerable, and yet just reading about books gets…boring.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this. My journal has begun to record the changes taking places in our lives here in the UK, and quite fundamentally now as I work in a school and they closed on Friday. I’ll be working from home; the shops are empty and often deserted; the streets eerily quiet. I hope this will all help to stem this terrible virus but it’s unnerving. Books are always my consolation in times of stress, and blogging will be a wonderful way to try to keep in touch, so I’m certainly going to carry on with that.

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    1. Do you journal, too? I would love to know more about that! You are an incredible commenter (is that a word?!), so faithful in contributing your thoughts to posts all over the blogosphere. It is so interesting that we are facing this globally, and can share our experiences. History is being made right now!

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      1. I kind of do a mixture of personal journaling which is mainly writing with a bit of decoration, and a little art journaling when the inspiration hits. We are indeed living through times which will become historical events and it’s most odd – but I am grateful to global contacts. I think they’re important to remind us we’re one race and we are not alone.

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  8. Thank you for this beautifully written post, for sharing your thoughts, for reminding me to open my bible more and to watch TV less. My personal takeaways from the pandemic are a heightened appreciation of nature, a stronger feeling of connection to my neighbors, and a deeper understanding of the the words “grace under pressure.” Blessings to you and yours.

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    1. It is so good to see you here again, Beth, and thank you for your kind words as always. Watching television has never been a preferred activity for me, although I do enjoy so many films on TCM. But, books are my main solace, particularly my Bible. No matter how many times I read through it, or in it, I am comforted. And nature! My goodness, have walks ever been more appreciated?! Perhaps even more than neighbors…😉

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  9. This made me cry, especially the last line: “I wonder if you will join me in embracing hope, rather than anxiety, trust rather than fear?” ❤

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  10. We’ve been in total confinement now for six days, schools have been closed for a week and we can’t leave home without an attestation. Police are stopping people to check they have this paper and if not it’s a €135 fine. They show this on the news, people who think walking on the beach or going to the park is ok find out its costly.

    So I go for a walk around my residence and notice the wildflowers beginning to bloom, the buds turning to flower and to leaf and then I notice a stone retainer wall with small crevices, which allow rainfall to pass and inside one of these holes is a piece of folded paper. I move closer to the wall and look inside and see that it is an attestation. I can read the part that has to be filled in by hand.

    Isabelle BRUT born in May 1966, street the same as mine. I don’t touch it, I just observe it, I think about it. I decide it is a small act of defiance, of protest, art perhaps.

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    1. Wow, Claire, that “attestation” part sounds like a police state, and yet I guess that is what we come to when people will not respect directions intended for their own safety. We do not have such papers here, but we do “suffer” the same confinement. It makes me all the more appreciative of what I do have: books, baths, walks outside, food in my cupboard…

      The last two paragraphs of your comment are like a post in themselves. They are beautiful, and show some defiance in a personal way, and make me think of our role, our place(s) in this situation. Thank you, as ever, for your comment.

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      1. The attestation thing is interesting, I’ve not lived in Europe during times when you might be asked for ID but most adults will remember those times. I think the French love a system, and this one gives you four reasons to be leaving your house and makes people take some responsibility and accountability for their action. I have only seen it enforced on the news and mostly its younger people who disobey it, this is a culture of rule followers and protestors if that makes sense, those things co-exist here and keep each other in check.

        Thank you, I might have to share that little anecdote more widely, I look forward to my twice daily walk and what I might observe.

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  11. I canceled all my medical appointments a few weeks ago, in anticipation of…..something happening. Now my hair is growing longer and I don’t know when I’ll be able to or even want to visit a salon to have it cut. Ohio is now under restriction and we have been ordered to stay in place, or stay in.

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    1. Oh, hair! Mine will lool like a “mad dog’s breakfast” as an old Australian friend I knew used to say, by the time I can get back to Santo to cut it. I suppose our hair can be “sacrificed” along with other freedoms in this interval. Ohio, Illinois, all the states and all the countries going through this boggles the mind.

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    1. Trust you, dear Silvia, to say “not without hope.” We will never give that up, will we, for we know the God we serve. I will add your family in Madrid and Malta to my prayers.

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  12. Meredith, I appreciated you sharing this. You have beautiful handwriting and I love the quotes and details you’ve included. I’ve journalled a little bit over at my personal blog (https://giftedwthought.wordpress.com/) but it is much the same story.

    On a positive note, I’ve finally read Endo’s Silence for the Japanese Literature challenge! I’m in the process of putting together my review videos, and possibly a written review. 🙂

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  13. Like Karen, I now find myself with unexpected spare time, so intend trying to keep up with other bloggers, get back to posting at my own place after a long hiatus, and generally doing what you so movingly suggest: keep up hope and spirits by interacting the only way we can at the moment – via these electronic media. It’s now getting pretty serious here in the UK; more or less a lockdown, no groups larger than two. Only ‘essential’ shops open, essential travel allowed. These sorts of constraints are difficult for people in our kind of society to comply with, but we really need to. Meanwhile, I hope you and your family keep well, Meredith.

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