In nine days, the fourth month of 2020 will conclude. To most of the world's population, these first 120 days will have felt like double that number. COVID-19 has introduced us to experiences such as "social isolation" to the point of "hunkering down." The virus motivated us to wash our hands and sneeze into our elbows like never before.
Among the strangest occurrences caused by the Coronavirus is, what I will call, "social suspicion." The other day as I asked for help in locating an item at a local grocery store, the employee from whom I sought help evaded me with the proverbial ten-foot pole (plus a few inches or so) and simply said, "somewhere over in those aisles" as she sped away from me. At first I was offended and angry. "I don't have the virus," I reasoned. "I'm not unclean," I assured myself. Yet then I considered what I can only assume was her great fear. She didn't know that I carried no virus nor that I was not among the "unclean."
This experience led me to recall the biblical accounts of the people in the days of Jesus whom people avoided - the lepers, the ceremonially and literally unclean, and the physically impaired who were wrongly considered to be cursed by God. How did they feel when the first-century equivalent of a grocer backed away? What did they think as neighbors kept much more than six feet away?
The experience also led me to consider Jesus' response to these same people. He loved them. He listened to them. He touched blinded eyes and caused them to see. He chose to be there for them.
How can you and I "be there" for people in times like these?
Write a letter (a real one).
Pay for a bill.
Keep your distance, but don't hustle away.