David and I spent the weekend in COVID jail – not because we had the virus, but because we didn’t. He had some minor surgery on his hand on Monday at the VA in Dallas, and as part of the pre-op procedure, we had to go in Friday for him to have a COVID test. The results were negative, but as we were leaving, the nurse said, “You’ll need to self-quarantine until the procedure on Monday.” Not too bad, we thought at first. Then we began to think about specifics.
“Are you gonna text the Schutters’ and let them know we won’t be at Home Group tonight?” asked David. Dirk was serving bratwurst and red cabbage, so I had done an Internet search for an appropriate side dish. I had prepared pickled beets and eggs earlier in the week so the eggs would have plenty of time to absorb the flavor and the color. I had even dragged out a decorative platter – as opposed to my usual redneck Tupperware – so I could create an attractive presentation. I explained to David that I planned to drop my contribution off – at a proper distance – and that I’d let them know what was going on while I was there.
After a few minutes of silence, I said, “I guess we can’t go to the gym this afternoon either.” Since the first of the year, with very few exceptions other than the shutdown, we’ve worked out five days a week. Missing one day may not seem like a big deal, but at our age it takes a lot longer to gain physical fitness than to lose it. And who knows how long it will be before David can do a full workout since it’s probably not a good idea to lift weights with stitches in your hand.
“We won’t be able to go to breakfast either,” added David. House of Prayer has a community breakfast on the first Saturday of the month, and we only found out last month that they had reopened. Since it’s the only place we get to see most of our friends from the Senior Center, which hasn’t reopened yet, we hate to miss it.
Besides all that, skipping Home Group and breakfast meant I had two more meals to plan for at home, and I hadn’t bought groceries for the week – except for eggs and beets. Once again I was grateful for curbside pickup and for the efficient staff at Brookshire’s that does such a good job of picking out everything on my shopping list.
Neither of us even mentioned Sunday. Bible Study, Morning Worship, and the evening Foundations Class are the anchors of our week, and everything seems off-center when we can’t be there. “And I’ll miss the special men’s meeting the pastor called for Sunday night after class,” said David. I wonder if that nurse realized how disruptive her brief instructions were.
I shouldn’t complain, though. Life is all but back to normal in Rains County while the lives of so many people around the world are still basically in shutdown. Sunday morning we watched the morning worship service at Idlewild, our former church in Florida. It was Ken Whitten’s 31st anniversary as Senior Pastor, and the celebration included a message from Jim Cymbala, Pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. He and his wife had come to Florida in March for a four-day visit and still have not been able to return home.
And then there’s Jason and Nikki Wynn, a young couple we follow on YouTube who has spent the last seven months trying to get back to Curiosity, the catamaran they call home as they sail wherever their sense of adventure and the winds take them. When they took their boat out of the water and placed her “on the hard” on a Pacific island in the Kingdom of Tonga, they expected to be back after a few months of visiting with friends and family and shopping for hard-to-come-by boat parts. When the world began to shut down, they made a mad dash for home, but on the final leg of a complicated and exhausting journey, Tonga shut down completely, and they were diverted to another island. Granted, there are worse places to be stranded than a tropical island, and they met lots of interesting people and had some great adventures, but their central focus during those long months never changed. Last month, they finally made it home and are now faced with an enormous amount of boat work to undo the damage done by almost a year of uninhibited sun, wind, rain, and salt air.
The stories of the Cymbalas and the Wynns, as well as countless others around the world, make our seventy-two hours of self-isolation seem trivial. The pretty tray that held my beets and eggs appeared on the front porch Saturday morning, freshly washed and protected by several plastic bags. We’ve had several offers of help if we needed anything, but we’ve not had to take anyone up on their offer. And neither of us has the virus. By the time this article appears on Tuesday, our lives will be back to normal, except David will have a sore hand. It’s a good reminder, though, to find your happiness, joy, and security in something or Someone more stable than the external circumstances of your life. After all, you never know when you might find yourself in COVID jail.