A Path of Hope

cc photo by J. Delp

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Dr. Martin Luther King

We’ve nearly made it.

In a few days we will all be celebrating.

I certainly understand the anticipation of a new year, but when the clock strikes midnight early Friday morning, it will not only be the end of 2020, it will be … another day.

It will be Friday. Probably not altogether different than today, or Thursday, or any other day of the week.

I know this probably is not what you want to hear.

It is unlikely our challenges will disappear as we enter the new year. We still have to navigate what is hopefully the final stretch of a pandemic. We have all experienced loss — some minor inconvenience, some significant life interruptions, and some life-altering tragedies. We still need time to grieve those losses and to come to grips with how this pandemic has altered every day life. This process will take time and a return to something that resembles normal would certainly be helpful.

It is my prayer that we have those opportunities for reflection and healing in 2021.

We know our problems will not disappear, but we need the hope that a new year brings. I tweeted this earlier today.

While a new year won’t be the solution to our problems, we can choose to be hopeful.

We can view each day as an opportunity to heal ourselves and demonstrate care for others. We can choose a path of empathy, kindness, and gratitude. We can treat people with dignity and respect, maintain an attitude of thankfulness for what we have, and demonstrate appreciation and empathy for what others have lost. We can choose to walk alongside others — for our sake, and for their’s.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

Mahatma Gandhi

If done right, it will be the collective and caring actions of our society that will provide hope. Not a date on the calendar.

As the new year approaches, choose to walk a path of hope and bring others with you.

A Lighter Burden

Luminaria – cc photo by J. Delp

Do you know who we haven’t heard enough from during the pandemic?

Doctors, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, respiratory therapists, hospital staff and countless other front line health workers.

It’s probably because they are struggling to stay afloat in a system that is overwhelmed with the current crisis. And when they have spoken, we haven’t done a very good job listening, or amplifying their voices.

It’s a bit dated, but I ran across this tweet from Alberta Health Services with a picture of Dr. Simon Demers-Marcil calling the family of a patient who was lost to COVID. The picture speaks volumes. The anguish and fatigue (physical and emotional) of Dr. Demers-Marcil is palpable. Unfortunately, there are thousands of these phone calls being made every day. Difficult positions made even more challenging.

I have an aunt who spent her entire career as an emergency room nurse. This is a mentally, physically, and emotionally draining job in the best of circumstances. These are not the best of circumstances.

I have heard from many who have had family members in the hospital during the pandemic who extol the dedication of hospital staff in their efforts to provide comfort and care to their loved whiles, while doing their best to provide opportunities for communication and updates. I know this has been a challenging year for many, but I can only imagine the toll the health crisis has taken on front-line workers and their families (not to mention the sacrifices they have made). I don’t think it would be unfair to say that for many, this has been analogous to a year spent in a war zone.

I also think our gratitude must extend to anyone who participates in keeping our hospital and healthcare systems running — regardless of their position.

I hope you will join me in keeping all of our doctors, nurses, first responders, health care workers, hospital staff and their patients in your daily prayers. My hope is that we will listen to the pleas of those on the front lines about how we can best support their efforts, and be willing to make small sacrifices for the greater good.

We have the ability to lighten their burden. They deserve the best we can give.

Injustice by Zip Code

athletics blue ground lanes
Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com

This evening I am frustrated.

Every week during the school closure (and every other week during the summer) our school has distributed food and supply boxes to support our families on the margins. This is truly a community endeavor. We receive donations from staff members, our own families, district employees, local residents, area businesses, and churches. We have a phenomenal parent liaison who goes above and beyond to communicate with each of our families, assess needs, and arrange a specific time for pick-up. Staff and community members show up, even in one-hundred-plus degree weather, to help hand out supplies.

Tonight was a designated night for box distribution. There are always a few families who need their materials delivered, so tonight I took a few boxes to one particular family. I chose to take the boxes because when our parent liaison called to arrange a pick-up, a family member indicated that there were three likely cases of COVID in the household — a parent, a grandparent, and one of our students. The parent and grandparent were really struggling with viral symptoms. In addition to the food boxes, the family needed disinfectant, hand sanitizer, Tylenol, Gatorade for hydration, and cough drops.

As I drove through the neighborhood I passed by very crowded low-income housing and I was struck by how easily the virus would spread in such close quarters. As with the family on my delivery route, I know that MANY of these families struggle for adequate access to the food, medicine, supplies, and health care needed for prevention or care if COVID is contracted.

I immediately thought of this tweet from Garrett Archer, who analyzes data for ABC 15, Arizona.

At the time (June 10), I checked our school’s zip code and calculated that we were number fifteen on the list. I recently followed up with Garrett to see if he had updated information and to ask about our zip code. Here was his response (received on Monday): “Hi, I haven’t checked in a bit, but I don’t think there has been much movement in the top ten. 8#### (our zip code) has 513 cases. Growth rate of 204% since April.”

None of this is necessarily surprising, but it is shameful. Add COVID to the litany of things we can predict based on zip code. There are many reasons for this, but there is no excuse. It does not have to be this way. It should not be this way.

This is also why we have to watch out for one another. Many of the family members in our neighborhood work in essential services. They come into contact with others daily because they don’t have a choice. If we are cavalier with our decisions and fail to take appropriate precautions we potentially expose them to the virus. Many will go home to multi-generational families, where they may spread it to someone who is high-risk. Again, this is predictable.

This virus is bigger than any one individual. We are in this together, and in my opinion, the only way out is together. It is going to require sacrifice for the collective good. Most of us would say we care about our neighbors — our fellow human beings — but are we willing to walk the talk. Time will tell.

There is no ‘them’ and ‘us.’ There is only us. – Father Greg Boyle

P.S. Thanks to our community the family received the supplies, medicine, and food needed, and it was delivered safely — placed at the front door, without contact. I am grateful for the care and support our school has received. We are blessed.