COVID-19 causes one to think come the holidays

I have an affinity for reviewing subject matter every time I sit down and begin to write. Today was no different.

One such column, written for Thanksgiving week seven years ago, is a pleasant reminder of the reasons for being thankful.

At the end of it, quoting Rebecca Harding Davis, ‘For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet…Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?’ “

Looking back through this year’s events; the pandemic, our protective isolation amongst the ravages of a virus which is relentless and inclusive in its infectious nature, its politicization along conservative/liberal lines, the election and its ultimate outcome, all have created an environment of conflict and uncertainty, anguish and tragedy of unimagined proportions.

How do we navigate these difficult days? Answers are not always easy to come by if they ever come at all. However, in every day which finds us on this side of the living, opportunities await for discovery, and it’s that moment when we realize the writer’s question provides the proper perspective before we are able to find the answer.

We are already part of that banquet, though we remain uncertain in the role we play. Do we live with an attitude and purpose which brings delight and pleasure to our Creator, or have we become road building material, or worse, broken pieces of pottery and garbage, destined to be discarded?

Watching news reports of people waiting in long lines to receive food assistance is heart-wrenching, realizing these folks have more than likely never had to experience this level of poverty. They drive good cars. They live in well-kept houses in the suburbs. They may have lost a job, due to the pandemic. Their choices were to either channel the remaining cash they had to pay rent or the mortgage, and keeping the utilities paid up or become homeless. Swallowing pride, they have chosen to rely on food pantries to get by. Numbers are staggering, reaching as high as twenty-five thousand in one major Texas metropolitan city alone, in the last several weeks.

Months ago, reports in mainstream news media hinted that, based on numbers of individuals who sought protection, as many as twenty million people were likely to lose rent protection by mid-December, due to the expiration of legislation designed to provide relief during the initial economic shutdown. Meaning, an entire new wave of working-class people are about to become homeless as the much anticipated second wave of the pandemic reaches its peak.

How do we respond in a time like this? To begin with, this is not the time to become judgmental, even if it is warranted. Charity and compassion begin with an attitude that were it not for the grace of God, we may likely find ourselves within similar circumstances.

What do we do, then, to help in this crisis? If we see a need, we find ways to help out. We do what we can. We donate financially, we offer social support and encouragement, with tangible acts of compassion. We listen, we offer a “socially-distanced” shoulder to cry on. We identify with those who are struggling, who are suffering the devastating effects of this horrible virus. We band together, creating new ways to offer hope and provide tangible relief. We become innovators and create new ways to help people in their time of need.

This is an opportunity to spread the table at the banquet of our Lord. It is with thanksgiving and gratitude we come together at this crucial hour.