A couple of weeks ago I had never heard of the idea of social distancing.
And give it time, a few years maybe, and we will probably have fading memories of the March when we needed to isolate ourselves from most social situations, put physical distance between us and other people.
For all of our protection.
On the latest trek to the grocery store Baby Girl and I saw it in action.
Per the advice given, we had a list and a plan. Start at the pharmacy end, zip straight across to the produce/fresh meat/bakery, then around the edges for staples and down a quick couple of aisles for things we were out of.
As soon as we started across the main aisle we noticed neon-bright tape X’s at intervals down the floor. One at the aisle end of every checkout lane, one at the paypad end.
We soon saw a worker on his knees putting down the tape. I asked if the X’s were 6 feet apart – the distance recommended to stay away from others to avoid contact with anyone’s droplets – and he said yes.
I thanked him, and said I was glad the store was giving us a visual aid to help comply.
The X’s continued down the length of the far side of the aisle, so that when there are long lines like we ran into last week, people can stay a good distance apart while waiting.
Here in Ohio I hear we have a reputation for hoarding toilet paper. If the shelves in the store I usually shop are an indication, that’s the truth. I’m curious for someone to connect why that was the hot item in our state, though it is a convenience people don’t like to be without.
Also in Ohio we are gaining a reputation for a governor who has put forward some very cautious yet radical plans of action. Schools are closed, universities and colleges, day cares will soon follow. Restaurants are take-out only. Large gatherings are not allowed, though churches are deciding on their own. Most are complying and not holding in-person services.
Governor Dewine is being looked at as a template for other states from what I read, and I am glad if he is erring on the side of caution. I don’t mind being inconvenienced for a while to keep more people healthy and lessen the impact this pandemic will likely have on the health-care system.
And as far as social distancing, I’m afraid our modern age has taken care of that in many ways. We can sit in a crowded room and no one is talking to each other. Everyone is busy on their phones, as if there weren’t any real people sharing the space with them, only the games and apps and “social media” that lets everyone isolate while thinking they are still “connected” to their many friends and followers.
As my family is learning to navigate our new normal for each day, we are venturing out in very limited contact with anyone else. Trips to the store are the most exposure and infrequent compared to our previously normal daily stops.
Work has been the biggest adventure. We have a small family business that’s been around for 58 years, and as Dear Husband is healing from his hip replacement, he has been coaching our two youngest through some basic jobs they can handle.
The training had started long before the surgery, but it wasn’t until just a couple months before the date that they started planning this slow return to work for DH. So as the jobs come in, he picks and chooses the ones he thinks the kids are ready to handle.
The plan sounded great three weeks ago, the day of the surgery.
And then the world changed dramatically.
In the 34 years we’ve been married, we’ve seen a lot of change in the world. A lot of change in our business.
The one thing that has never changed is that God has always provided work for our hands, food for our table.
And no matter what is going on in the world, I have no reason to doubt his ability to get us through this pandemic, this game-changer that is reshaping the way we live our daily lives.
So on the days we have a job or two to take care of, I drive, the kids help their dad work in a garage or two, at the most they see one or two other people who stick their head out to check how it’s going, and pile back in the car to head home.
Way less contact with the outside world than they are used to having.
And I sit in the car and knit while they work, or run for supplies, or cancel appointments as they come to mind.
And I watch.
Workmen at a neighboring house, people walking their dogs, moms with kids on a bike or a stroller. Mail carriers, garbage men, homeowners checking for mail.
Almost all walking quickly, purposefully, eyes straight ahead or on the ground, that heartwrenching look of being on the edge of breaking on their faces.
So I’ve decided I’m fine with putting physical distance between me and everyone else. I can try to remember to stay six feet away.
But I will not distance myself emotionally from the fear and confusion I see on almost every face.
I tried it today, with the man picking up the garbage bags next to my car and the one backing the truck into the condo driveway. With the frowning man walking his dog. With everyone else I saw, mostly through the windshield of the car.
I made eye contact. Or tried to.
You see, I have hope. And I believe that I need to be ready to give a reason for the hope that I have. And I can’t begin to give you a reason if I am too scared to look you in the eye.
And I am not too scared.
I want you to see that Jesus is not a liar. When he says he will be with us always, he didn’t mean except for when the world is flying apart at the seams and we can’t make sense of anything.
I think he means that is EXACTLY when he will be most with us.
So if you see me across a store or parking lot, don’t be surprised if I attempt to catch your eye. I can’t touch your hand or hug your neck, but I can let you know that I see you, that you matter, that you are not alone.
It’s one way I WILL try to make human contact while we are encouraged to keep our distance from each other.