Before I could switch stations or turn the television off, a news reporter for the local 10 p.m. news flashed onto the screen. As I grabbed the remote control, I heard him announce, “Another person in Marathon Country has tested positive for COVID-19.”
Hitting the power-off button, the screen went black. Turning to my daughter Tammie, who is sheltering in place with me, I complained, “I can’t listen to the news right before bedtime. I won’t be able to go to sleep if I do. Sleep is important for us to feel well.”
Tammie nodded in agreement as she pointed out, “We’ve been keeping up with what’s been going on throughout the day. I don’t want to listen to the news at this time of the day, either.”
The reality of what sheltering in place really meant, took two weeks to totally sink in. My life, a sense of what my world was, my place in it and the end of old carefree routines crumbled and disappeared. I felt scared. The change was so sudden and drastic. We saw no end to this disruption, either. How frustrating!
As I prepared for bed, I thought about what I knew about the Spanish Flu in 1918. My mother had been 12 years-old at the time. People were told to stay home, then too. Many farmers in the Stratford area, like my mother and father’s families, didn’t alter their lives much. They already stayed home most of the time.
One change COVID-19 has made is making me feel very sad. I won’t be able to attend Holy week or Easter services at church. Tammie and I will attend electronically, but virtual attendance is not the same as actually being there.
My thoughts shifted to a movie my family traditionally watched during Lent every year; The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston. When I was five years old in 1956, we saw it for the first time in the local theater.
My family seldom went to movies, but The Ten Commandments was one movie Mom and Daddy thought worth seeing. Some of the scenes in the very long movie frightened me. During the disturbing parts, I covered my face, tried to crawl into my mother’s lap or sank down to sit on her feet.
One scene suddenly popped into my mind. Moses had told his people that each family was to take an unblemished lamb from their flock, slaughter it and paint its blood on the lintel of their house. They were to eat the lamb and be dressed for travel. If they did this the tenth plague, the angel of death, would pass over their house. Those who didn’t do this, primarily the Egyptians, would lose their first-born sons, the curse Pharaoh had called down on his people.
The movie showed the families at their tables eating and the children asking questions. Outside in the streets, a strange mist slowly crept past as Egyptians screamed and lamented loudly. Pharaoh’s only son, the heir to his throne, died. Devastated, he ordered Moses and his people to, “Go!”
Instead of scaring me, my memory of that scene from the Ten Commandments movie comforted me. The screams and cries were hard for the Passover families to listen to, but there was nothing they could do. Having done as they were told, the rest was in the hands of God.
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m obeying the shelter in place order. The situation is scary, but there is nothing I can do about that. Having the blood of the Lamb on the lintel of my heart gives me peace.