coronavirus, quarantine, and a new outlook

I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now, but our world is going bonkers.

(That’s my word for the month—bonkers.)

Returning from the coronavirus craze in Rome just in time for it to start up here in Washington has given me the strangest sense of déjà vu. Schools are closing, large public gatherings are forbidden, and borders are closing. And all of these big changes impact us at the personal level.

The Hodges house is currently a microcosm of COVID-19-induced strangeness. My mom is slated to donate stem cells to her immunocompromised brother, which means that her health is nonnegotiable. With a daughter returning from Italy and a husband working as an emergency responder, the house has become a bit of a danger zone for her. She’s staying at a hospitable friend’s house while dad and I live out our CDC recommended fourteen-day self-quarantine. We’re referring to it as her “banishment.”

Quarantine is a strange experience. The days blur together, time moves slowly, and there’s plenty of opportunity for reflection. And here’s the thing: I’ve had a lot of time to be sorry for myself. I’ve wept and mourned the loss of Rome. I’ve reminisced and railed against the unfairness of it all. And having that time to grieve was so good, so necessary.

But now? I’m moving on.

Because we’re all losing something to this pandemic. Students are being pulled from school, workers are facing job uncertainty, travelers are being stranded in foreign countries. Economies are tanking. Medical facilities are overburdened. Lives are being lost. It’s hard to stay personally affronted in the face of such global upheaval.

For many in my generation, I know that it’s hard to take this virus seriously.

Just a flu? Better take advantage of those cheap flights and go see the world.

School’s cancelled? What am I supposed to do with myself?

Borders are closing? Our world is overreacting.

It’s so easy to focus on the inconveniences. It’s so easy to focus on ourselves. We either buy into the hysteria or ridicule those who do. Friends, I challenge you to join me in looking elsewhere.

I challenge you to take COVID-19 seriously without participating in the panic. Consider your neighbors—your elderly, immunocompromised, pregnant, homeless, impoverished, or jobless neighbors. If you’re young and healthy, or if you have the material margins to survive this season unscathed, consider your community members who don’t have the same advantages.

For my fellow brothers and sisters in the Church, now is the time to really be the Church. It’s not time to wallow in our losses, and it’s not time to wall up and binge Netflix. It’s time to pay attention to the needs around us. It’s time to engage in radical generosity, connectivity, wisdom, creativity, and selflessness.

I invite you to ponder this question with me: In this unique season, how do we love our neighbors?

Ask this question as you pray, as you speak with your families, as you connect with your communities. Let’s put our heads together. Let’s take responsibility for our communities.

I’d love to hear how you’re safely + lovingly engaging with your communities in this season. Feel free to drop a comment below, or shoot me an email.

Let’s love this world well.

The cover photo of this post is the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. It was a windy, rainy, dreadfully stormy day, and yet there the church stood, beautifully imposing. In the center, Jesus stands, hand outstretched, as if forever caught in the moment of calming the storm.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matt. 25:34-40

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