3 Ways to be Safe in a Pandemic Reopening without Losing Your Mind: How to Survive this Virus: Chapter 3

“A

nybody need any saving today, Mama?” The kid comes swirling into the kitchen, hollering like she’s Superwoman swooping in on a wild unfurling of cape.

“Cuz I am here to save the day!” She flings her arms out like she’s watched one too many Paw Patrol rescue missions, and I kneel down to kiss the tip of her crinkled button nose.

Yeah kid.  I need saving, the world needs saving, strange and unimagined days like these need saving.

Worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 

A strange new virus that never existed in humans ever before, now ringing the globe, stalking the family of humanity, a virus which was initially thought to be a respiratory illness, but is now actually thought to “kill as a cardiovascular virus” — that causes a flood of blood clots, causes a lightning strike of strokes in the young, sets off a killer blood storm of excessive inflammation, even overcoming the youngest of children.

It’s wildly tempting to keep asking when we can just go back to normal.

Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp

But frankly:

For most of the world, for most of world history, our kind of comfortable has never been normal.

We were blithely living very rare days of ease that we generally and easily took very much for granted.

And now in these strange kind of days, we get to experience what was never strange to the vulnerable — we get to get comfortable with being vulnerable, which can lead us all to better love the vulnerable.

Maybe the question isn’t: When will this be over — but how can we overcome?

Maybe it’s not about when this will be over but how can we now overcome indifference by showing up to make a difference, overcome self-interest by prioritizing the vulnerable’s interests, overcome all kinds of tribalism by being kind to all human kind.

Caring for the vulnerable is the new normal.

“You know how you can know I can help save the day, Mama?” Our littlest flings her arms around my neck.

“Because I’ve got a mask on! Superheroes always wear a mask!” I’m kinda dumbstruck how the kid’s pulled together this whole superhero outfit all by herself, like she knows what these days call for, and she twirls around for me to see her in all her masked glory — and yeah, kid, I’m seeing it:

All heroes don’t wear capes — but these days maybe all the heroes do wear masks.

Is it possible that when a virus can spread when you’re asymptomatic, that not wearing a mask can actually be symptomatic of the kindness of your heart?

Maybe: Wearing a mask isn’t about right or wrong policies, but about loving right.

Maybe: Wearing a mask isn’t about making some kind of statement, but wearing a mask is simply about being kind.

Maybe: Wearing a mask isn’t about being fearful — it’s about being thoughtful.

The only way we open up safely is by being open to a new normal that keeps the vulnerable safe.

Masking for your neighbour unmasks your heart for your neighbor.

And I kiss my little hero’s forehead and think this is the beginning of how to survive this virus:

Be masked to
Be kind
To humankind.

Levi Voskamp
Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp

When I scoop our little Superhero up in the evening,  head out to the field to bring dinner to the Farmer planting the new 2020 crop in the fields, we climb up into his tractor and he tells me:

“Yeah, looks like this is the year of the new normal. Wearing masks when we go to get equipment parts, supplies, in town — and then planting a crop like we never have before.” He turns to look at the planter behind him.

We’re cropping a field that I remember my grandfather planting when I was a kid, me riding in the old International tractor exactly where our littlest is sitting now.

But this is the first year ever, that we haven’t broken up the soil to plant a crop, but instead we’ve chosen a different planting approach — called “minimal disturbance.”

Strangely appropriate when a global pandemic is causing global maximum disturbance.

Instead of turning and plowing the whole field in the fall, and breaking up and cultivating the entire seedbed of the field this spring, like we have done for generations — the Farmer and our sons are only breaking open very narrow strips of soil to plant the seeds in — and leaving the rest of the field, between the rows, undisturbed.

Sitting in the tractor beside the Farmer, I find it strangely calming to watch this new way of planting. In a world disrupted and disturbed, there can be new ways of doing things.

I’m an old dog, learning new tricks —“ his  dust laden flashes a smile  and the Farmer winks.

“And honestly — learning a new way of doing things this year, a new way of opening the soil up — should bring in a better yield this year,” the Farmer nods to the planter behind him.

I hand him the bunless, lettuce-wrapped burger I made and brought for his dinner. We are always learning new ways of doing things. And when we open things up by doing things differently than we have before — maybe things yield better things than expected.

“Papa?”

Our Littlest Girl, sitting in the tractor buddy seat, tugs at the Farmer’s sleeve.

“Why you not wearing your hat, Papa? You always wear your hat.”

The kid’s right again. I had thought that, how it’s unbelievably  strange to see the Farmer without his cap on — but these are strange-to-us days and maybe the wind coming across the field had caught its peak, as he hauled up into the tractor, and blew it away?

The Farmer leans in to his little daughter and says it quietly:

“Papa took off his cap — because I was passing all the hours of  planting — with praying.”

And I swallow hard.  And see his Farmer’s cap laying there in the corner of the tractor cab.

He’s been putting on a mask to care about his brothers and sisters — and he’s been taking off his his hat to pray to his Father.

In a world that’s figuring out how to open back up, you’ve got to keep figuring out all the ways to keep your heart open to God.

Maybe the point is that we have to do more than live through a pandemic — we have to learn to live with a pandemic.

The way you live with a pandemic is to keep living with the God who is with us.

I watch his eyes watching the field. As we move toward Pentecost — he’s welcomed the wind of the Spirit to move across these fields, across these unprecedented days, and catch his heart up in God. I catch a vision of it too:

This is how you live though a pandemic: you yield to God, and you yield  to the vulnerable — and your life yields the most.

Instead of focusing on personal freedom, it’s a life that freely yields to others that always yields the most.

The way through a pandemic — is to commit to finding more ways to pray. When we pray more about the ache of this world  — we find more ways that we can be answers to that ache and those prayers.

In the middle of a pandemic, we are deciding:

You live through a pandemic by living an others-first ethic.

You live through a pandemic by not being prayer-anemic.

You live through a pandemic by not being apathetic. To either God or the vulnerable.

As we all feel more vulnerable — physically, mentally, financially —

These days of vulnerability give us the gift of caring for the vulnerable in community — and entering into a vulnerable communion with God.

Levi Voskamp

Levi Voskamp
Levi Voskamp

I reach over for the Farmer’s hand wearing the dirt of all his essential work.

All heroes don’t wear capes — but these days maybe all the humble heroes do wear masks — and take off their hats to spend time in unmasked prayer.

The Superhero Girl grins up at her Farmer Papa, and I feel it like a smiling, growing:

There’s new ways to plant hope in a world in dire need of saving.

We can put on the kindness of Christ. We can take off the barriers between us and yielding to intimate prayer with God, and we can yield  freedoms so we can yield a life more like Jesus, so that more see the only Superhero who can ever save the day in these unprecedented days.

And one little girl throws open her arms to her Papa, and the field opens up in new ways for the seed, and you can feel it — the world opening up and growing into new ways of being even more kind.

All this Light floods the fields.

 

Related:

How to Survive This Virus Chapter 1: This is not a drill. The World’s on Fire. We practiced our faith for days like these
How to Survive This Virus Chapter 2: Losses Come in Waves: How to Find The Way Through & The Complete Passage Deal