My younger sister is a nurse at a hospital. She hasn't yet been exposed to COVID-19, but there was a time when we thought that might be the case. She quarantined herself from the rest of her household (including her 4-year-old daughter) for two weeks, trying to protect our family from the disease she might have contracted.
She, like other health-care workers, works on the front lines during this pandemic. Whenever she goes into work, we know that she might be exposed, that someone asymptomatic might bring the virus into the hospital.
A couple of weeks ago, I sat in the waiting room of a hospital while a loved one got test results. I'd given blood the day before and, in order to do that, and in order to walk into the hospital to wait, I'd had to have my temperature taken and answer questions about exposure and symptoms. I didn't have a fever. I didn't think I'd been exposed. Yet as I sat in that waiting room, my stomach started to hurt. I felt flushed. My anxiety increased. Do I have COVID? What if I've brought COVID into the hospital? I was wearing a mask (as I do whenever I am in public) and I still feared that I could be that asymptomatic person who could expose a health-care worker or anyone else I passed. I couldn't bear the thought; it felt like I would be betraying all the people in the hospital, but particularly my sister. (It turned out that I had a touch of food poisoning.)
The scripture for this reflection is Psalm 46, a psalm that is often used for funerals. There have been too many funerals for too many people who have died in this pandemic. Too many people who have died too soon or unnecessarily because people insist on foregoing masks or congregating with other people believing that the pandemic is a hoax.
This is not a hoax.
Too many people like Antoinette Akita have died after working on the front lines of this pandemic.
People who have not been protected from the disease because we would rather get used to having more funerals than to wearing masks and taking precautions.
God mourns with us with the loss of each human. God demands that we love one another by being safe, wearing a mask, washing our hands, keeping our distance.
God is our hope and strength, a very present help in this trouble.
But we do not need to bring down more trouble. There have been too many deaths already.