Hunkering Down in Texas

There is an old curse often attributed to the Chinese, “May you live in interesting times”, and the times have indeed been interesting since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept the globe. At first, it did not seem too serious since the Chinese government and the World Health Organization was downplaying the severity of the virus. But soon, one nation after another began to be hit heavily by the spread of the disease. Countries began to shut down, and then America started travel bans and our President assembled a special team to deal with the approaching plague. Before we knew it, life had changed in major ways as mitigation policies began to take effect. The United States was in the midst of a terrific economy, the unemployment was at its lowest, businesses were booming. Then, suddenly, the medical experts said we should shut everything down and shelter in place at home as much as possible. Restaurants and most businesses closed shop or continued to do business as best they could under the strictures of the recommended guidelines. The shelves at the grocery stores started to thin and soon there were shortages of quite a few things (much to the déjà vu of my wife who was born and raised in the Soviet Union). Soon, even churches were asked to shut down for the most part and to do services online instead. For Orthodox Christians like my wife and I and our parish family, this was very sad. We were in the middle of Great Lent and had nearly finished our journey to Pascha – it was the most precious time of the year for attending services. But instead we found ourselves having to do reader version services in our prayer corners at home and watching livestreams on our computers. If we pay attention, everything in life can be instructive, even difficult things like having to live an abnormal life in this pandemic. I think one of the lessons learned is that now we begin to appreciate church more. Not being able to go to services whenever we want has increased our thankfulness for when services are available. I hope we do not forget this when things go back to normal. Seeing empty shelves at the stores has made us appreciate better how easy things were before the pandemic, and we realize we have been taking many of our material blessings for granted. Not being able to see friends and family more often has made us realize how often we have been self-centered by not visiting with them as often as we could have before this craziness started. Another lesson for me personally is that even though this is the first time for me to experience such things, I know that the inconveniences I am going through are nothing compared to what most of the world is enduring right now. My wife and I support the St. Barnabas Orphanage & School in Kenya, and our thoughts and prayers often go to Fr. Methodius and his family, as well as all the teachers and children involved in this wonderful work. We will continue to pray for all of you, and I trust that you will remember me and my wife Natalia in your prayers, too.
Reader David Hawthorne,
Texas, USA
May 2020