Tonight at midnight we will be two thirds of the way through our 21 day lockdown. The question on everybody’s lips is,”Will the lockdown be extended?” On the one hand, the economy has taken a nose dive. We’d already been downgraded to Junk status by two ratings agencies. Businesses are struggling and that has a knock-on effect on employees. More people are out of work. The rand reached R19.25 to the dollar on Sunday from R15.96 on March 10, which was already a high figure. Our president, Cyril Ramaphosa is getting input from experts – scientists, epidemiologists, economists and other countries. On the one hand the economists warn South Africa might never recover economically if the lockdown is extended while the health professionals warn if it is lifted too soon, more deaths than necessary can result.
We, the citizens, can only trust our leaders and pray. Prayer is one thing that is thriving. Our church used to hold prayer meetings once a week at six pm. We went once or twice. There might have been six to ten people. Numbers dwindled until those prayer meetings were stopped. Most churches had a similar experience. Now, on our on-line prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings, we have over forty attendees on Facebook.
There are different interpretations of what is and is not an essential service or item. Alcohol and cigarettes definitely not. Cosmetics? They were blocked off in Clicks when we went shopping. Batteries? My Mom’s geyser isn’t working and my brother’s tester requires a battery that he can’t get. Are plumbers essential services?
So how are things on the ground? Predominately, quiet. The sound of traffic is muted. When we go out shopping for food and essentials, the shops are quiet, many people wearing masks and silently going about their shopping. At home, both my son-in-law and daughter are working from home. This has pro’s and cons. At lunch time they can sit together in the sunshine and enjoy their lunch. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to run an art studio remotely and my daughter’s business has shrunk so she can’t even draw a salary.
I’m coping better than I feared I would – I’m a “go-out” person rather than a “stay-at-home” like my husband. When I first heard the announcement of the lockdown, I disintegrated into a soggy bundle of loss. But now I’m coping well. I seem to have found new energy to bake, experiment with cooking, do craft and science with the grandchildren. So far I know very few people personally who have contracted the virus – only names on prayer lists.
Some of my fears might seem ridiculous.
I’ve been wearing the same clothes (except underwear) for three days at a time on occasion. I haven’t used make-up for a while. My hair badly needs a cut and I can’t go to a hairdresser. Will I become a slob?
What if air-travel becomes obsolete and I never get to see my family in New Zealand or Russia again?
Strangely enough, I am not afraid of the virus itself. In fact I don’t mind contracting it and get it over with. The odds of actually dying from it seem in my favour. I’m mostly healthy. I trust the wonderful immune system God gave me. If it’s Armageddon between human-kind and the virus, I’d back human-kind any day. We are made in the image of God. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
That, of course, reminds me of Psalm 139, one of my favourite psalms. It is helpful to read the whole psalm although I will start at verse 13.
For you created my inmost being; you knot me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.
Lastly, I was inspired by this short video by Trevor Hudson.