Love is the answer.
Several words that are used to describe our profound emotions as we travel the long and curving path of life, are difficult to describe. We often say that we love someone or something or someplace, and yet if hard pressed to elaborate regarding about what it is that caused us to use that powerful word…we find it a bit like attempting to capture a beautiful cloud before it changes and morphs into something else. I see love when I see our nurses and doctors risk their lives to care for us during our pandemic. They work countless hours…often without the proper personal protective equipment…knowing that they have a great potential of contracting the disease.
Many times I have been comforted by a fellow traveler and made to feel less afraid of what I was facing and secure in the courage of their kind words…to only understand later that they were…
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Jonathon and I were in the drive thru of the SIU Credit Union, this morning, when what do I hear, but a friendly voice call out, ‘Hello there, Jay Brooks!’ When I looked around to see who was so jubilant, there were our friends Jane and Bill. They looked like two college kids on spring break with their wide smiles and happy demeanor. Just having the opportunity to be exposed to their kind conversation and smiling faces…placed my ship on course… for the day.
As we walked the beautiful campus of Southern Illinois University, we saw some wonderful volunteers who were receiving donations for the university’s Food Pantry. Cars would drive up with their donations and hand the food to the caring people.
MJ said that our friends from London, Jeff and Margo, called us today and that she had a lovely conversation with Margo. We have been friends for nearly 50 years. It appears that they are confined to their flat as we are confined to our home, due to the coronavirus. I love the United Kingdom, and London is a wonder! Each time that we have news from our UK friends…it makes my day!
Brody, our 16 year old Boston Terrier, went for his hydrotherapy this afternoon. Our Veterinarian’s office has a, wise, social distancing policy…whereby we stayed in our car and telephoned, and one of their marvelous technicians came out and took Brody in for his, as he calls it, Peanut Butter Therapy. The young woman even sent MJ a photo of Brody as he tread water with his tongue extended as far out of his mouth as possible to obtain the motivation for his exercise…the peanut butter!
This evening, Jonathon and I have a church board meeting to attend via, a streaming service called Zoom. It will be a new experience for us both, and another change in the way that we do things…in our efforts to halt the spread of the virus.
Happiness is not just a warm puppy, but the human connection that we have with our friends both near and far. When the days seem desperately dark…look around for a fellow traveler…holding a candle…to light your pathway.
As I walked the Campus of Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale, today, I was struck with the profound beauty of the picturesque blue sky…an azure sky. Although the state of Illinois is on a stay at home order, issued by our Governor, we are allowed to; walk, run, or hike, outside our homes. Campus is an ideal place to facilitate social distancing…as I seldom see another human. I was thrilled to hear my name called out and when I turned to see who was greeting me…there was my friend Sarah and her distinguished dog.
We are living, in real time, in a pandemic. People are dying. The United States has just experienced it’s deadliest 24 hours. This is someone’s mom…or dad…or sister…or brother…or grandmother…or grandfather. Lives have, already, been inalterably altered…forever.
When fiction and ‘Tall Tales’…bump their head against the hard tungsten steel of facts…the fanciful narratives evaporate like fog…
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A Rummikub marathon marks MJ and my 42nd anniversary. She won five games and Jonathon won, one. I think that I was second place, once. Life has changed in the past 42 years. For one thing…I am no longer 20 years old. I recall being in a meeting with my friend, former Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard, where he briefed the University constituency heads regarding the dangers of the SARS virus, and the potential for a virulent pandemic…and how SIUC would respond to it. I ruminated regarding what it would be like to live through a worldwide pandemic similar to the pandemic of 1918.
‘In 1918, a new influenza virus emerged. During the same time period World War I was taking place. The conditions of World War I (overcrowding and global troop movement) helped the 1918 flu spread. The vulnerability of healthy young adults and lack of vaccines and treatments created a major public health crisis, causing at least 50 million deaths worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States.’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
MJ reminded me that 42 years ago, this morning, I and my best friend, Steve, enjoyed breakfast with my mom in Eldorado, Illinois. I was so excited to soon become married to Mary Jane. I could not believe my good fortune. I do not remember being nervous..probably because I was to young to know better? I remember wanting to continue to be involved in christian service…and perhaps to become a minister, and to succeed in a career in order to help provide my new bride with a good life.
MJ was a school teacher and I was a janitor. I hoped that I could measure up? Needless to say…God has been very kind to me throughout the past four, plus, decades. I was just thinking that we should take a trip to celebrate our 42nd…and we shall once the virus has passed us by.
Now is a stellar time to reflect on where we have been…and where we are going. What is important to us? ‘Where there is life…there is hope!’ Political party and prejudice and peccadillos…melt away in the face of our shared humanity. We all want Dr. Anthony Fauci to speak to us every day! We all want the scientific and medical leadership of our leading immunologist and the Center for Disease Control.
Life has been the most harrowing and tighten-your-grip…white knuckle roller coaster ride since March 24, 1978. Often the view has been awe inspiring and at other times, the hairpin curves caused me to feel that I was going to fall out of my seat… But, after each challenge…I am changed…softened and more accepting and more reflective on the miracle of life…and the joys of the path back to Jerusalem.
So, soon, Jonathon will go and pick-up our called in curb-side delivery of our dinners from one of our favorite, local, restaurants, Hunan. We will enjoy the delicious cuisine and plan our futures…43 is just…next year…
‘I’ll be back’ is a catchphrase associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which was made famous in the 1984 science fiction film The Terminator. On June 21, 2005, it was chosen as #37 on the American Film Institute list, AFI’s 100 years…100 movie quotes.’ Google
I think that the Terminator’s noteworthy statement is applicable to our present distress. I was so encouraged, yesterday to see our pastor, Kerry, deliver a wonderful sermon, through the streaming application called, Zoom. Along with Kerry was, Kathy, who played the piano so beautifully, and Carlyn singing a song of comfort and hope. Our church service was, by and large, unchanged…and that was uplifting and grounding, at the same time.
We are all here. Yes, we are separated by social distancing…but our hearts and our spirits are united. Fear will not win!
The reports, for the last five days, from China, is that there are no new cases of the coronavirus. The pandemic has shown us that we are all members of the same family. No matter if we are rich or poor, famous or unseen, it is no respecter of persons.
Tomorrow is Mary Jane and my 42nd anniversary. I went to Kroger’s and purchased a lovely anniversary card. Our anniversary dinner, tomorrow night, will come from Hunan’s and Aaron and Jonathon and MJ and I will enjoy it…while our Black Lab, Parker, and our 16 year old Boston Terrier, Brody, look on with drools…do not worry, they always get theirs. Over the past 42 years God has rescued me from many of life’s ‘slings and arrows.’ Many times I wondered if things would work out…and what the dim light was at the end of the tunnel. I am a believer in guardian angels…and I have felt the presence of mine…on many occasions.
We are listening to our medical professionals and following the science. Social distancing has been proven to work in slowing the spread of the virus. The more rapidly that we can flatten the curve and thus not overrun our hospitals, the faster that we can return to normal.
AS we hunker down through the worst of the pandemic and prevent the virus from spreading…then, selective businesses will begin to reopen…which is vital to the economic well-being of our fellow citizens. We will, be back…it is up to us how quickly that we want to return.
‘…His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping my endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.’ Psalms 30:5. NKJV
The directive was simple and straightforward. Stay in your homes from 5:00p.m. Saturday, until April the 7th. The Governor’s order allowed for doctor and pharmacy visits, and visits to the grocery store and walking, running, and hiking.
Kroger’s supermarket was full of people. The bathroom tissue aisles shelves were empty, as well as many others. A note in the bread department admonished the customers to take no more than three bread products and there were three Kroger Wheat Cracker boxes left. We took one.
A few people were wearing surgical masks and one gentleman had a respirator. People were attempting to obey the social distancing guidelines…but with the good manners of the midwesterners, they did not make a big thing of it.
During our Campus walk, Jonathon and I noticed the dark and foreboding clouds that surrounded us. Their appearance gave a feeling of a tangible substance that could be molded in the manner that my old childhood toy, Play Dough, could be formed. We saw one of two people…at a distance. There was a chill in the air.
I read that McDonalds is going to provide two children’s meals for each adult meal that they sell. Schnucks supermarket is opening an hour, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., for senior citizens to shop, before the general public is admitted. Our pastor and several wonderful people are working hard to provide our church congregation with a live streamed morning worship service, tomorrow.
Marta telephoned MJ and inquired as to how she was doing. MJ was greatly encouraged by a call from her friend.
My brother, Brock, texted me and wanted to know how we were doing. It is always good to hear from Brock.
My friend and Session colleague, Rob, continues to compliment my photography efforts. I regularly tell him that he is too kind…and he assures me that he is not…but that he is simply stating fact. After his kind remarks…I go out and snap a few more pics!
I watched, with gratefulness, Rev. Laurie Fields, who was our youth minister for several years, as she gave, morning prayers via the internet, and I admired what a good work that she is doing. Laurie is now the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, Illinois.
Many times the, seemingly, smallest of acts or kindnesses, make my day. I often do not see God in the earthquake or the fire or the wind…but in the still small voice. ‘Then he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.’
‘So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’ I Kings 19: 11-13 NKJV
When I see people who are uncertain of what the road ahead is like, and who are frightened and who are suffering…reach out to their brothers and sisters to alleviate their pain and lighten the load that they are carrying…I hear the still small voice.
As our walk was concluding, the most lovely sunshine began breaking through the clouds…
A tremendous blog from Jonathon Brooks!
Hope changes our views of the world and the world itself. It takes courage to have hope! Hope takes moxie. It calls for a positive attitude and perseverance. In our life stories we are offered the choice to shine light or to cower in darkness. I stopped living in fear long ago. Hope offered me light and a way away from darkness and fear. Pessimism can take the next one way ticket to anywhere but my place. Courage to rebel against myself and the crowd and the noise and my own folly and all that would harm me is a virtue I’ve been practicing all of my adult life. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been rewarding.
I encourage you to persevere in hope now and always. If you are in the habit of praying then keep the prayers coming through the sunshine and the storms. If…
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Peace In Our 2020 Storm
Mary Jane told me this morning that she had received the nicest email from our friend, Ro. As she shared the kind note with me, my heart was made light and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The efficacy of a few well placed words can make an important difference in your perception of the storm clouds.
Heroes are all around us. Our nurses and doctors are the front lines of our defense against the coronavirus. They deserve our admiration…and they, especially, deserve all of the Personal Protective Equipment that they need. They are mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and sons and daughters. They are risking their lives to help the rest of us.
I spent my career in custodial services at Southern Illinois University @ Carbondale. I quickly discovered that the precious members of the Building Services staff were not only vital…
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