Counting the dozens of toll booth workers’ hands I touched over our three-day drive home from Mexico, I began thinking about how easily the Coronavirus could pass from one person to another. Hadn’t I made contact with the gas station attendant when I tipped him for washing our car window? And how about those motel rooms were Dave and I stayed? Was the television control infected? Our room key? Germ magnets, for sure.
I had hugged our staff good-bye when we left Mazatlán. Did one of them feel a little warmer than normal? What about the four couples we had over Friday night for our “clean out the refrigerator” party before starting home the next day? One of them was over 80 years old, the age when we are the most susceptible.
Yesterday I went grocery shopping. Besides mine, how many other fingers had squeezed the avocados before choosing a ripe one? Had the lady who bagged my groceries washed her hands for twenty-seconds in warm water upon exiting the bathroom? Perhaps I should begin wearing disposable gloves. Perhaps I should wear disposable gloves to pick out a box of disposable gloves since someone’s ungloved hands had placed them there on that shelf. Or are those just as useless as the white masks that have been sold to those who don’t realize the virus molecules are small enough to filter through the covering? Maybe I should check Amazon.smile for a hazmat suit and stay under my bed. (Can dust bunnies be lethal?)
As I write this, I am looking at autographed letters ready to be mailed. Last night Dave sat down to sign his baseball cards and insert them into self-addressed, stamped envelopes. He did not know one person who had mailed those requests. This morning it dawned on me: some envelopes he licked to seal. Yikes! Perhaps I should Clorox his tongue.
We easily can panic over this outbreak, become paranoid about our activities and live in fear. Our friend Charlie and his wife recently attended a concert in Las Vegas. Charlie said that the crowd sat mesmerized by the orchestra…until, that is, he sneezed, at which point all 1,000 in attendance turned to glare at him.
The problem is that paranoia leads to conspiracy theories such as these that are proliferating: eating in Chinese restaurants is dangerous; the virus is linked to HIV; or COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese research lab. Some shops have installed signs banning Chinese people from entering. What’s next?
What message do we send when faced with a threat? Instead of reason, we scream “Panic! Take care of #1! Over-react!” Granted, we must take precautions, but there’s something else we need to do. Pray. Pray to the One who can do something about our concerns. Pray to the One who tells us not to worry. Jesus said, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27) We need to pray for God to comfort those affected and to keep us diligent and mindful of ways we hopefully can prevent becoming a target. Martin Luther offered advice we all should remember: “Pray as if everything depends on God, then work as if everything depends on you.” Because it does.