Friday, May 1, 2020 – Live to Blog under a Blue Sky
Wow, after so many hours of nothing but rain, it finally stopped and the sun came out. It made me want to go naked (without a mask, that is) and dance in the street! Nope. Not yet because it is May Day! (More appropriately, it is “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”
May Day is a festival of Spring and it is also celebrated in many countries as a day to honor workers. One of the traditions of May Day I remember as a kid was preparing May Baskets. I don’t exactly remember what went in them, but I do remember being “asked” to drive around town with my mother and then “asked” to walk them up to the doors of people I didn’t know and leave them there. I was never quite certain whether we were leaving something what was supposed to be good or bad for them or whether they’d actually appreciate it. But, like any small child who is “asked” to do something like that, I did it.
Later, when I learned the tradition of May Baskets and May Pole dancing were hand-me-downs from a European pagan festival celebration of Spring, I was curious that so many God-fearing Iowa United Presbyterians, Reformed Presbysterians, and United Methodists engaged in the practice.
That was the diversity of faith in my community – three different Christian congregations, though rumor is there was a small Baptist congregation for a while. I went to summer Bible School at the Reformed Presbyterian Church where it was immensely popular to carve the Jerusalem Temple out of Ivory Soap. I must have made three or four of those over as many summers.
The really exotic faith in our community was Catholicism. But, then, to the best of my knowledge, I only knew one Catholic family and they seemed pretty okay. I’ve been told, by my family members, that their daughter was my first girlfriend in grade school…before she moved far, far away to the big city (20 miles, population 25,000 approximately). I never saw her again.
My family’s church was the United Methodist Church…though I eventually became a Quaker. The real excitement at our church was the annual God’s Portion Sale and Dinner each Fall. There was an auction of donated items and a huge community dinner with unbelievably good homemade pies and hand-cranked ice cream. I think they even let in a few Presbyterians, or maybe they just sneaked in. The concept of “God’s Portion” eluded me for quite some time. I wondered if this was the only time each year when God got something from the Methodists.
Summer church-going was fun when either the United Methodist or United Presbyterian ministers went on vacation. The two churches were directly across the street from each other, and each had their own congregations and their own ministers. Seems like each had a limited understanding of the concept of “united.” Except at vacation time. When one of our ministers went on vacation all theological divisions were put aside and we attended the other’s church. It worked well for everyone. We could have the experience of knowing what “really” went on inside the Presbyterian Church on Sundays, they had a chance to show off their service to us, and our minister could hang out guilt free in Las Vegas, or wherever Methodist minister’s vacation. Vice versa when it was time for the Presbyterian minister’s vacation.
What was really cool, though, was the battle of the Lord’s Prayer. It is typical in both the Presbyterian and Methodist services to recite the Lord’s Prayer aloud as a congregation. However, there is one, teeny, tiny, and wholly insignificant difference between how the two groups say the prayer. For the Methodist’s the line is: “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” (Sometimes, when we’d recite this in church, all those S’s made think of snakes.) The Presbyterians, on the other hand, were completely apostate in their desecration of the Lord’s Prayer. Their line was: “…forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” There you have it! “Trespassers” v. “Debtors”! Let the battle begin!
When we visited each other’s church we’d sit waiting in anticipation for the Lord’s Prayer. Call to worship…yeah, fine, let’s get to it…hymn…got it…yep, another hymn…okay, now the offering…and, finally, the Lord’s Prayer. We’d begin the prayer and sneak glances at the Presbyterians to make sure they weren’t preparing to cheat – though I’m not sure what that would have looked like anyway. Just as we reached that all important line, we’d brace ourselves to whisper/shout it over the Presbyterians as they tried to whisper/shout us down with their apostate nonsense. Everyone knows we are “trespassers” not “debtors.” Who do you think God is? The local banker? Geez! The big moment would pass and each was satisfied and certain they had won the whisper/shout battle until the next ministerial vacation.
Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!
The international distress signal is “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” said three times. Just in case it hasn’t been said already: “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!”
Folks, we’re in trouble. More technically, “we’re in deep doo doo.” We are rushing back to “re-open” America too quickly. I’m not a doctor (well, actually I am, but please don’t call me for anything medical). However, I do read, analyze, process, and, more importantly, think (because that’s the kind of doctor I am). What I am reading and seeing tells me it is too soon and we are going to experience some pretty nasty “snap back.” That is, by re-opening so soon we risk having to come back to sheltering-in-place and the next time it may be worse and longer.
The recent decisions to “re-open” are being driven by politics not facts. No surprise there. It is true for Mr. Trump and for each of the governors who fear being protested by Stupid People and the Ignorant People who lead them. (See Day 45 for respectful but accurate definitions of both types of people.)
In my reading today was a brief, nontechnical, but eye opening piece from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP). (With appreciation to my friend and colleague PM in Florida for sending it to me.) It is titled COVID-19: The CIDRAP Viewpoint, which you can download and read for yourself. The paper compares COVID-19 to influenza epidemics and pandemics. It explains why COVID-19 is different. It describes lessons learned from the past and it outlines three possible scenarios for the future. Without giving away the ending, I’ll just say that none of those three scenarios would encourage anyone to make vacation travel plans for a couple of years.
Unfortunately, I don’t see a way out yet. People don’t want to be at home. Too many people are out of work. Politicians and large companies did their usual “money grab” and squeezed out small businesses who employ so very many of those who are now out of work. Despite what we’ve been told, too little testing is taking place. And we are still 18 to 24 months from achieving the 60 to 70% immunity needed (either through immunizations or herd immunity) to make it really safe for us to hang out together again. In the meantime, people are still getting sick, people are still dying, and the helicopters are still flying over our house.
What helicopters? Yes, we are a mile from the exclusively COVID-19 UM Laurel Medical Center. About three miles from the hospital and our home is the temporary morgue for COVID-19 victims at the Laurel Gardens Ice House. The medical center is the only hospital designated as such in the state of Maryland. Since it opened for COVID-19 patients only last week, we’ve had a steady increase in the number of medical helicopters flying over our house en route to the hospital’s heliport. Each one that I hear outside (and I just now heard another) reminds that it is “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!”
The Adventures of Chickenman – Episode 16
Benton Harbor (Chickenman) visits the home of a childhood sweetheart. Together they fly off into the night.
It’s Friday! Time for Some Good News!
Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing a mask, and keep yelling “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!” until we are saved from the Stupid and the Ignorant.