Wednesday, March 18, 2020


All signs indicate the coronavirus is spreading across America. It has had very bad effects in some countries abroad such as China and Italy. It will get worse here in America before it gets better. It is going to impact our lives in ways we cannot see now. Right now the stock market is collapsing, again. What to do?

The experts are telling us the best thing we can do right now is to self isolate, for our own sake and to keep the virus from spreading. So, that should be our first thought. Stay at home if at all possible. For those for whom it is not possible, keep "social distancing" and practice common sense measures as frequent washing of hands.

The medical professionals are also telling us, if you get the virus, do not panic. Treat it as a bad case of the flu. They are saying go to bed and take over the counter medicines to treat the symptoms. Seek more help if you are in the "at risk" categories:  over 60 and/or with underlying issues as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, lung diseases, and cancer.

Believe me, you do not want to go to the Emergency Room these days unless absolutely, positively necessary. Two days ago, I had to go to the ER, to my great discomfort, on a matter completely unrelated to the virus. On doctor's orders, I had to take a family member to the ER in order to get the person admitted to the hospital, the largest hospital in this region of Alabama. First of all, on entering the ER waiting room, one is encountering every germ in the county from people suffering various conditions of medical distress. On entering the door, the triage nurse, covered from head to toe in protective gear, slapped face masks on us. Then she put us in a little room far back in the ER department where we had to wait, and wait. After five hours of waiting, I asked the area nurse if I could go get something from my car and return. "Sure," she said. On returning from my car to the ER waiting room, I saw the personnel scrambling around everywhere. It was bedlam (I do not know if it was an incoming case of the virus, but it was something critical). The clerk told me I could not go beyond the doors into the hallway. "Oh, no," I said, "I have to go to my family member who is in a room alone back there." "That hall is closed, no one goes in there!" she declared emphatically. In disbelief, my mouth fell open, my eyes bulged, and my face turned red, but there was no way that woman was letting me pass her to get into the ER hallway where a true emergency was occurring. Turning and looking at that big room full of coughing and sneezing people, I fled in anger and sorrow. I seethed all the way home. I can tell you, it is very hard to leave a loved one alone in the ER. 

As it turned out, I can see the ER personnel were right. They were protecting me from the virus or something else dangerous. My family member was well cared for and was soon admitted to the hospital. It all ended well but left me in shambles. So, take my word for it, you do not want to go to an ER right now unless it is a matter of life and death. 

The ER is ground zero in the fight against the coronavirus. The medical professionals there put their lives on the line every day, and they do it for us, all of us. They deserve nothing but our admiration, respect, and support. I thank God for them.

Fortunately, we church people are grounded in our faith and we have our leadership to guide us in this trying time. Those in lower South Carolina can look to their diocesan authorities for wisdom and guidance in this darkening hour. The Anglican diocese has closed all churches for in-person services. Several parishes will livestream services on Sundays. Find the list here . Bishop Lawrence has posted a pastoral letter that everyone should read. Find it here .

The Episcopal diocese is temporarily without a seated bishop, but it still has leadership, namely in the archdeacon, the Ven. Calhoun Walpole, the chair of the standing committee, the Rev. Caleb Lee, and the visiting bishop, the Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley. Just today, the archdeacon posted a thoughtful reflection, "Diocesan Meditation: The Light in Darkness." Find it here . All three leaders will be posting meditations regularly on the diocesan website. All churches of the diocese are closed to in-person services, but some parishes will livestream Sunday liturgies. Consult the diocesan website here for the particulars of the online offerings. In fact, Morning Prayer, at Grace Cathedral today, is available on Youtube. Find it here .

As for me and my family, we are staying at home except for necessary outings, and then only as briefly as possible. As everyone else, we will be watching Sunday services on our computers. Sadly, we cannot visit our family member in the hospital because the hospital has closed itself to all visitors, understandably. Yet, we can still communicate with each other, on our phones and other electronic equipment. 

The night is darkening. It is going to get darker and darker probably for the next few weeks or months. Remember that as the light fades you are not alone. We are all in this together and we will get through this together. Keep the faith. Peace.