Jail Break!

Here we are … 8, 10, 12 weeks in with this crazy (and seriously overheated, if I may offer my personal opinion) pandemic. Have you enjoyed this bizarre social experiment as much as I have? (Granted, one of my last posts noted my comfortability with self-isolating.)

It’s been relatively easy for me to follow the guidelines. We live in a state where stay-at-home recommendations (for the most part) were modest, mostly respectful to sensible adults listening and heeding medical and government guidelines. Truth be told, my Beloved has trudged off to work every single day. It’s what he does.

Then, a week ago, we saw the headline “New York Times lists COVID-19 daily growth rate in NWA as highest in the nation.” Imagine the reactions! This isn’t something we aspire for top-list status. For myself, I’m hoping herd immunity kicks in soon.

Still, we’re adjusting here. And the good news I’ve been reading about – seemingly everywhere –  is that rioting, looting and pillaging cures the spread of COVID-19! It certainly takes the spotlight off  all the dreary predictions and public shaming (when someone isn’t wearing a mask … or sin-of-sins, failing to maintain proper distancing).

Long after a range of normalcy is restored across the world, the awful effects of COVID-19 will remain. So many individuals have lost their livelihoods and scores of businesses have been crippled beyond return. I’m no doctor, but even I can see this virus will go down in history beyond the number of people who died from the disease itself. I can’t help but think of its long-lasting psychological impact on children.

Further, the ease with which government encroached on personal liberties was stunning. (If that doesn’t bother you, maybe take some time to read the US Constitution.) Measles, influenza and smallpox were serious concerns for the founding fathers, but somehow they managed to secure our nation and enumerate certain rights of citizens … despite the numerous health challenges they encountered.

Don’t misunderstand, I know the virus was (and remains) a notable threat, especially for elderly folks with other health complications. As various states continue to transition through phases of re-opening, I’m optimistic we’ll see states and the country as a whole flourish and regain some economic and spiritual wholeness. But please, let’s not forget the essential freedoms previous generations fought and died to uphold; let’s hold them close, close enough we won’t let go.

In the meantime, a sonnet reflecting my thoughts on the lock-down.

Asleep In Jesus

Though it seems nearly a thousand years ago, back in early January (when the world seemed relatively calm) my Beloved bid adieu to his younger brother. This was before Covid-19 had rocked everyone’s world, but the expectation was that my brother-in-law’s days on this planet were ending. He moved out of state to live with his son.

We were privileged in recent years to have him living near us. Initially, he lived in our home, moved out, temporarily moved out of state and eventually returned to the area. An irrepressible individual, his stories never ceased to entertain and his bottomless reservoir of energy made him well-loved by all.

But cancer’s destruction would not be abated, rendering him a wisp of the man he once was. Bidding him adieu entailed numerous phone calls through January and February, until he was too weak to hold a phone. He passed into Eternity on March 4th at the age of 66.

Everyday, my Beloved feels this huge void from the loss of his brother. They talked daily including a regular Bible study time every morning by phone. Saying goodbye was sorrowful, but my Beloved knows the assurance of seeing his sibling again … such a blessed hope! Continue reading “Asleep In Jesus”

Elbow Room

When it comes to isolation, I’m something of an expert. (Someone – maybe Dizzy Dean? – once said: it ain’t bragging if it’s true.) Though I enjoy the company of a wide range of friends and loved ones, I’m quite content spending time alone. In fact, whenever there are times I must engage socially, it’s not long before I must grab time alone to replenish my sociability reserves.

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Unlike the social “deprivation” others are enduring, I’ve suffered no hardship from enforced social distancing. If I’ve needed to go out (grocery shopping, the post office, etc.), I’ve gone. In the beginning of March (as things first started closing down), I went to the post office where one of the counter clerks wore a surgical mask. It surprised me, but if that’s what she felt she needed to feel safe, I had no objections. Individuals should have the freedom to make those decisions for themselves.

Continue reading “Elbow Room”

One to Tell the Tale

Beginning in the Fall of 2014, I commenced a serious personal study of The Book of Job. This ancient biblical account relates the gripping story of Job. Today, we’d say he was highly-privileged and experienced the perks of life few of his contemporaries may have enjoyed.

The book begins with an unremarkable statement: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.” The next sentence tells us Job was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” But within just a couple paragraphs, the situation turns bad — really bad — for Job.

Thus begins an ages-old dialogue probing the goodness (or monstrous cruelty) of Almighty God. The question begs to be answered: why must a righteous man endure suffering? If a man is indeed “blameless, upright and God-fearing” (as the narrative proclaims Job was), then doesn’t he have every right to be exempt from humanity’s pain and affliction?

Continue reading “One to Tell the Tale”

Straight-Up Grandstanding

Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say but . . . few things raise my ire as much as careless (or ignorant) use of language. Yesterday, this video (below) by Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) received attention on various web services and blogs. Referring to her as the “Bronx Bolshevik,”  Biz-Pac Review ridiculed her cringe-worthy assertions.

One of AOC’s Democratic challengers, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera said: “keeping AOC in office makes us (the citizens of NY-14) look like fools.” Twitter posts were amusing and predictable. I leave it to others to express their reactions as they may.

For me, my first impulse was to ignore the video. I dislike contributing additional views to any video I consider inane. But AOC’s statement irked … specifically the repeated use of that non-word:  patroning. My spell-checker rejects the nonword, and so do I!

Continue reading “Straight-Up Grandstanding”

Jumping the Cactus

No matter how often I’ve seen it, this 2017 Progressive Insurance commercial always makes me laugh. I’m reminded what the commercial says about human nature. More to the point, it demonstrates the human propensity to ignore the old adage:  speak less, listen hard. When someone mentions taking the kids to soccer practice and you’re willing and ready to jump the cactus, there’s a definite failure to communicate.

This week’s news didn’t highlight the failure to communicate, but it did cause people to re-think their understanding about what it means “to hear.” Yes, I’m referring to the Laurel/Yanny debate initiated by a Reddit user posing a simple question:  what do you hear? Continue reading “Jumping the Cactus”

The Man From Uz

We’ve reached the last verses of the final chapter of The Book of Job. Through poetry and prose, readers have witnessed Job’s catastrophic losses and torments. We’ve also heard from Job’s comforters, offering their point of view on why Job deserved to suffer.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

The book is divided into 42 chapters. In October 2014, I first posted about my plan to compose (and post) a sonnet for each chapter. In early posts, I pared my compositions in order to condense each chapter’s narrative into the sonnet format of fourteen lines. Continue reading “The Man From Uz”

Forgiving The Comforters

As The Book of Job opens, the reader occupies a ring-side seat within earshot of a heavenly discussion between the Creator and one of His created beings, the deceiver Satan. This introductory conversation centers on a man whom God describes as “my servant Job.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

As the conversation between God and Satan progresses (through the first two chapters of Job), the account is told via prose. Starting in chapter three, however, the events of Job’s life (and suffering) are related through poetry. This epic poem carries us all the way through chapter forty-two, verse six … after which the narrative reverts once again to prose. Continue reading “Forgiving The Comforters”

Job’s Confession

Job’s days eventually came to an end. Chapter 42 in The Book of Job presents a concluding narrative of Job’s latter days in seventeen compact verses.

FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake
FROM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Blake

Seventeen verses … hardly enough to offer the level of detail one might appreciate. We want to believe life is consequential, and I think there’s no argument Job’s life was consequential but seventeen verses seem an inadequate summary.  Continue reading “Job’s Confession”