What spreads faster than the virus?

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Rumors. The challenge during times of fear is to understand what’s true and helpful. Rumors not based on fact really don’t help anyone. Yet they’re out there, more prevalent than the virus itself.

People are getting so worked up to the extent that toilet paper is becoming a valuable commodity. People are buying items in bulk that they wouldn’t think of standing in line to buy during “normal” times. But the rumors – even the unspoken ones where we watch others’ behavior – have us doing things that we’ll shake our heads at in a few months. What were we thinking?

That’s the problem with rumors – they keep us from thinking. We start reacting out of fear. They infect us now with a different kind of “March madness.” I think it’s a good idea to “give up rumors for Lent.”

And what could we do with our time while the rest of our lives are shut down? I’ll bypass the common suggestion that we might purchase a case of Corona’s and get happy. But we can find happiness in relationships that we often don’t have time for. When our kids and grandkids are regularly separated from us because they’re on the playing field or court and we’re in the bleachers, we now have them at home for the same hours they’d otherwise be running and kicking, hitting or throwing. How could we use this time to enjoy the gifts of our loved ones up close and personal?

When our concerts and games are cancelled we’re given some of those rare “one of these days” that we’ve been promising ourselves as in, “one of these days I’ll reorganize the garage” or “one of these days I’ll go visit my sister” or “one of these days I’ll go through my photo collection.” If these days aren’t the gift of “one of these days”, will that day ever come?

As a pastor, I’ve been tempted to close down things at church because of rumors or because “everyone else is closing down.” I certainly don’t want to put anyone at risk – and after almost two months of recuperating from pneumonia, I’m not about to put myself at risk either. I figure that people who are fearful of being in public will stay away when they wish. In the meantime I hope our church could be a beacon of normalcy wherever that can happen.

Of course we’ve put into place a number of common sense procedures that lessen the possibilities of transmission of a virus. But we’re happy to keep in place the ways we transmit strength and healing, hope and comfort. I don’t want the rumors or fears to stop us from doing what we do best – caring for a community, especially one that is experiencing distress.

What “normal” things can you do to be a beacon of help and hope to those around you? How can we assure both the young and the old around us that they’ll be OK and protected by our care and love? How can our calm attitudes help those who are feeling the winds and waves of the rumor storms?

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