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We are hunkered down for the duration. This is day 4. It feels like day 400. Or 40 years in the wilderness. Or 40 days…  Whatever, the ‘4’ is still the same number, even when we look at multiples of 10 or 100. Big deal? It’s a 4, right? Our concept of time fluctuates when tainted by our perception of danger. “Time stood still”…”Minutes seemed like hours”…we all know the common phrases.

When Moses led the people out of Egypt, there was a period of 40 years in the wilderness. Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days. The ancient writers of the Psalms spoke of ‘the valley of the shadow on darkness’. There isn’t a theological connection to 400, but when one is navigating the anxious unknown…a wilderness, if you will…it feels like a very long, unending time.

We have a a modest stock of pantry supplies; our necessary medications and vitamins; dog food is on order; and I find myself frequenting Amazon.com for ‘oh ya!’ items – you know, the add-ons we forgot about initially but can’t live without…like printer ink; printer paper; and a stack of books. We have a list of Netflix shows to catch up on. There is plenty of wine. And, yes, we have toilet paper.

What we are having a hard time with is peace of mind. The ‘what if’s’ are endless and cover everything from physical health to financial health to spiritual health. Yes, spiritual health. I find myself yapping at God with a list of why’s and how’s…Why is graduation cancelled? My child has worked so hard!…Why can’t I see my new grandson?…Why can’t I feel safe, even at home?…How long will this go on?…How long, oh Lord?…

Okay, time out! A 14-day period of hunkering down with plenty of food and water is nothing period is nothing compared to living in a war ravished country for year upon unending year. It is nothing compared to the diagnosis of a life changing disease. It is nothing compared to living through the depth of grief and crying out “Why!” and “How long must I suffer!”

We, as Americans, have been inconvenienced. Nothing more and nothing less. This virus has given us opportunity to turn back to a simpler time when compassion and relationship were important virtues. We have the opportunity to rest, relax, and refresh as we spend time enjoying a slower pace. We are encouraged to enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of nature while we walk, run, or bicycle – physical exercise away from the 4 walls of the gym. Hmmm – there is that number 4 again.

Some say the number 4 represents unity and integrity. Think about it…unity and integrity. We are in this together. We need to see it for what it is and how it impacts ourselves, our families and our neighbors. Our response to the coronavirus must be as a whole…not just me and what I want. It is imperative that we listen to the experts and take their advice no matter how it impacts our plans. Spring break will come again next year and the year after that. However, those who become ill and don’t recover won’t be here to love us and excitedly share our travel pictures and stories. It takes integrity to think outside of self and focus on what we need to do for the benefit of all.

This is a novel concept for our self indulged culture. Our opportunity for growth as we wander and wonder through our relatively brief wilderness is to let our hearts open to the world as God created it. It is a world that only functions when we reach out to ‘the other’; when we are filled with gratitude for who we are and whose we are; and when we let love, compassion, and gratitude fill our hearts so that we can live no other way other than with unity and integrity.