You are there, and I am here, and at least for the time being, it’s probably best we keep it that way. The world has gone eerily quiet, and I gotta tell you, I’m into it.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s a shame it has come to this, especially when there’s the potential for illness and loss of life. My mother died less than a year ago, and it still hurts, every day. I don’t trifle with dying. But I am grateful that my mother, who spent her last years in a nursing home, is not here for this. She worried, fantastically. Most assuredly, she would have been under strict quarantine, thanks to a porous immune system, and this would have broken her spirit. She survived a lot of things in almost eighty-one years; I do not think she would have survived this.
But we will.
My world, probably like yours, has gone into lockdown. Last night, our school district and others in the Central Valley announced it would shut down for three weeks, moving into “alternative deliveries of instruction.” The day before that, it was the university where I work; faculty will move their courses online and students will engage via virtual platforms from the comfort of their own living rooms, from places they have an acquired intimacy with their own pathogens. The local Babe Ruth league in which I coach shut down, too, calling off all practices, scrimmages, and competitions, in lock-step with our school district. And expecting a steep decline in attendance, local pastors have announced they will cease greeting times involving handshakes, opting instead for holy fist bumps or, safer still, elbow tapping, because unless you’re a contortionist, it’s physically impossible to touch your elbow to your face.
Go ahead. Try it.
So now, on a Saturday, when I would typically be coaching a baseball game, I am here, and you are there, and this is as it should be, at least for the time being. God has seemingly shut down the world, but this does not feel like something over which I should panic. It feels, rather, like life has opened up to me in pleasant places. I am not scared. I have books to read, seeds to sow, walks to take. I have three children, two of whom start college in the fall, and this feels like a gift of time with them. It feels like a gift of time with my wife, too, and even with our spry white dog, who at this moment has stretched out next to me and nuzzled her head against my leg. She is thumping the sofa with her tail, and my son has taken note of this from a chair across the room. “She is so happy,” he says, and that’s because she is home, in the house with her family, and there is no other place she’d rather be.