As some of you have heard, our friend Leanne Strommen, pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church in San Juan Capistrano, is currently in intensive care with pneumonia and COVID-19 at Mission Hospital. Leanne’s spouse Kevin – who has been our guitarist on Saturday evenings – was also hospitalized for a while, and their son Noah also has the virus, but is doing quite well. Also, our friend Becks Heyhoe, the director of United to End Homelessness, lost her grandmother to COVID-19 this past week. We are at a point in this pandemic when we will begin to hear more and more of family and friends who will have contracted this virus. Many will do well, others will struggle, some will not survive. God have mercy.
As the news comes in and gets closer and closer to home for us, may we remember these things:
1. None of us is in this alone. Your church family, though physically distant, is spiritually connected with you in ways that few of us realize. Please contact the church office if you want us to remember you in prayer and especially if you want someone to contact you with information or care.
2. Faith, hope, and love are not virtues that only apply in times of security and comfort. When the Apostle Paul wrote of them as chief virtues, it was a time when the early church was facing many struggles. Faith, hope, and love abide, and are far more powerful than our fears and insecurities.
3. Every life is valuable. Some hospitals in New York are facing some of the ethical dilemmas that usually are only in theoretical textbooks – a shortage of necessary equipment and a plethora of needs. Even in tragic situations, we still need to say that every life is valuable. Some folks are worried about how an extended quarantine will affect the economy in the long run – and while many of those worries are wrong-headed aspirations to retain privilege, when the economy tanks the poor, the undocumented, and those who are barely hanging on are the ones who take the hardest blows. We will have to give our economic habits a thorough look when the worst of this pandemic is over. But, one thing we must say aloud and without condition: Every life is valuable.
Meanwhile, most of us are not facing those ethical dilemmas, but are continuing to get accustomed to “Sheltering in Place.” We are probably losing some old habits that we ought to have lost anyway, picking up a few new habits that we may regret in the long run (mostly having to do with the refrigerator), and wondering what it will look like when we eventually get back to something like what we call “normal.” And while the market’s volatility and the stoppage of many businesses have had immediate impact on many folks, many others are not there yet and have been able to weather the impact fairly well so far.
If you are able, here are some meaningful ways that you can do positive things during this time.
- Of course, I invite you to continue your support of St. Mark, even as we continue to look at how our expenditures need to be adjusted during this crisis.
- Homeless Shelters (you can find one in your town
) are in need of folks who can supply meals. One way to help is to offer to pay for a meal from a local business that is trying to survive my moving to catering, rather than in-house dining.
- Cards and letters: Do you know of someone who is unable to visit their family? If you have time, a handwritten card or letter is a lovely gesture and gift.
- Make masks. Some of our Care Team folks have found patterns and instructional videos that show how to make masks with replaceable filters. They are not up to the standards of what medical teams at Hoag might use, but they are very good for at home use, particularly if someone has a cold or other symptoms.
With any of these ways of reaching out to others, please remember to wash your hands, avoid touching your face, cough into your elbow, and do everything you can not to spread any of your germs even through physical objects.