Joy in the Time of Coronavirus
In March, everything changed. The first major event to be canceled was SXSW, the Austin-based music, tech, and film festival that happens every spring. Next, the remainder of the NBA season was suspended indefinitely. Less than two weeks later, the summer Olympics in Tokyo were postponed to 2021. By then, there were almost 54,000 cases of Americans infected by the novel coronavirus as public schools and universities closed nationwide and film premieres and concerts from coast to coast were rescheduled.
On April 1st, Mayor James Spoon issued a shelter-in-place proclamation for the City of Sand Springs, emphasizing the increasing importance of Sand Springs residents to stay home and exercise extreme caution while tending to essential errands like picking up groceries and medicine. Gyms, barbershops, massage parlors, hair and nail salons, dance studios, and entertainment venues were ordered to cease operation, and coffee shops and restaurants were mandated to offer take-out and delivery services only.
In the last few years, Sand Springs residents have endured an EF2 tornado and historical flooding ???? but most of us never anticipated a global pandemic would disrupt our community. Many small business owners are reeling from the sudden closure of their cafés and stores, scrambling to apply for loans or move their inventory online. Parents are attempting to balance working from home while teaching their elementary children homonyms and long division, and high school seniors are grappling with the changes of their proms and graduations.
Right now, there are no playdates in the park, baseball games to cheer for, or date nights out over pasta and candlelight. People are donning masks to pick up groceries at the store, the stock market is volatile, and the unemployment rate has skyrocketed. And yet, there is hope and cause for celebration.
Residents are creating rainbows out of bright-colored tissue paper to hang in their front windows. Families are taking long walks after dinner, admiring the growing wisteria and dancing on the sidewalks. Friends are texting funny and relatable memes back and forth, a welcome respite from the harrowing headlines and will surely be referenced as the our modern day comic strips. Children’s birthdays are being commemorated with drive-by parades, cars bedecked in balloons honking and making laps around the block. At night, couples mix up mint juleps and work puzzles on the coffee table. Neighborhood groups are making plans for front porch renditions of “How Great Thou Art” on Easter morning.
This isn’t the first time a pandemic has swept our country, and it may not be the last. There are certainly challenges that lie ahead as we rebuild our communities and work through the grief and trauma each of us has experienced. But soon, we will all be together again.
We’ll embrace ???? without reservation ???? among the grocery store produce, its bounty overflowing. We’ll meet friends for dinner out, glasses clinking to new-found communion. We’ll gather in the parks, the sound of kids squealing and laughing filling the air. We’ll look back on this time tenderly, mourning for the lives lost and grateful for all the time spent with loved ones.
And when this disease is no longer spreading and the shelter-in-place order lifts, we Sandites will emerge from our homes, our hands outstretched skyward, singing, “Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and then proclaim: ‘My God, how great Thou art!’”