But how? Right now? How do you love in the time of social distancing?
Coronavirus is on everyone's mind this moment. I try to stop thinking about it but it sneaks back in. What am I doing? Is it the right thing to do?
Thursday evening, I stopped at a grocery store on my way home from work. Of course, it was packed. I have my annoyances with any crowds, but that was all I thought of it until i got into the checkout line. "What are we doing?" I thought to myself. We've cancelled so many events, but here we are, brushing by each other down crowded aisles. Did we all really need something right then? I was low on a few things, but I could have gone home without absolutely needing anything that evening. And it was a grocery store in the affluent Galleria area of Houston---were any of these people back from recent trips anywhere "hot"?
This very morning, we opened a show, a play. The theater, one of the few who haven't cancelled performances, listed all the predictions they are taking and then left it up to the audience members if they wanted to come see us. I don't know if anyone in the cast had misgivings---we have been having a great deal of fun with the production, and we were ready to share it with an audience. Furthermore, it is nothing but fun, nothing but loud, boisterous silliness that in a way, I'm sure, was a respite to the small audience we had. (And they all responsibly sat with distance between them.) I felt good about offering that respite.
And ever since, I've wondered if we did the right thing. There are moments in the show when we, the cast, are all in very close proximity to one another. At one moment, the thought sneaked in---should we be doing this?
Where have my cast mates been? Where have I been? Am I incubating anything from my grocery run that I've now passed on to the cast?
How can we know? I suppose if any of us come down with fever and a dry cough. That's when we'll know.
I despise how I'm thinking about this. I'm generally not a germophobe. I wash my hands regularly and otherwise try to practice good hygiene, but I'm usually not this conscious of the possibility of a germ. I'll eat a dropped M&M off the floor but should I be touching this table in a public place?
My church has cancelled services for two weeks. Tomorrow morning, I'll get up pray virtually, online, at a safe social distance with whoever else logs into my church's live stream. It will not be the same. I will miss singing in a congregation, the singing that I always call "breathing together."
Should we be breathing together?
Some of my atheist friends are mocking the notion of prayer and I will admit to not knowing how to pray right now. Other than not in close proximity. I don't belong to a brand of Christianity that wants to say we're protected from a virus "in Jesus' name." I know we're not. The rain falls on the just and unjust. But how then should we pray?
Love is the answer, it's the how of it that is getting to me. It's a question I used to ask in church committee meetings. "How do we love our community right now?"
Lord have mercy, but it is the farthest thing from clear to me right now.