Essays on Faith: In times like these, at least we can keep the faith and send a text

Caught up in the fear of the known and unknown.

Like you, I’m caught up in the coronavirus, as all we know is what we read or see on our television sets, laptops and cell phones. In our lifetime this has not happened with the exception of swine flu.

With a worldwide crisis, it’s unnerving to stay inside and hear about everything closing and/or only delivering orders.

Fear can decrease our hope, create hoarding of food and paper items (that is already happening), but most of all, fear is contagious. I saw that when I made an early morning trip the other day to the grocery store. People were grabbing this and that so quickly that I forgot what I’d intended to purchase. I felt like Ralphie sitting on Santa’s lap in the movie “A Christmas Story,” but thankfully that was temporary on my part.

With my car loaded, I headed home, but was awestruck by the lack of traffic on any street. It was eerie. Sorry for referring to yet another movie, but for an instant I was reminded of Will Smith’s character in the movie “I Am Legend,” where no one was walking on the sidewalks, and I thought, “Is this how the global pandemic will be?” Smith had his dog with him, and the world he knew had stood still. Inexplicably frightening as he saw no one — at first. Fear set in him as well, and no wonder, for it would in any of us.

And now with the news of basically being homebound, who will contract the horrid virus and who won’t? The answer is not known, but I’ve read enough about the Black Death that occurred in Europe in the year 1347. Ships docked at the port of Messina after sailing in from the Black Sea. The pandemic spread throughout Europe, whereas earlier it had begun in China and spread to India and the Arabic countries.

No doubt no one knew of the earlier start of the virus because there was no way of letting anyone know other than two forms, word of mouth or the written word, and both were not instant, as you can surmise.

The Black Death was the bubonic plague and it was airborne. It was basically caused by infected rats and fleas that were prevalent then — and it had no cure. Just hysteria, blaming others, and it is stated that 500 million people were infected, while 50 million people died. I read that people blamed each other, but too many blamed God. And why?

Man didn’t have the knowledge of antibiotics then, or vaccines. They took their anger and frustrations out on their fellow men.

Forward to 1918, when the influenza virus broke out in the U.S., and then worldwide from 1918-1919. People were quarantined if they were suspected of having influenza. I heard my grandparents talking about it, and that even in Charleston temporary morgues were set up.

My mother was born in 1920, and had her parents been victims, I wouldn’t be writing to you. Thank God they, like so many others, were spared.

I read that the two words “fear not” are mentioned in the Bible 80 times.

It’s time to contemplate what we can do while we are in our homes, because a hobby can help ease tensions and fear, as well as texting or actually talking to those in the same situation. Fear of the unknown has always been frightening, and always will be, but it’s time to be grateful that we have mass communication, where those in the 1300s did not, and those in the early 1900s had more, but sadly not enough.

Be grateful that you are not alone, as neither am I, for we don’t know the ramifications yet, but we have friends with whom to talk, and faith and many prayers said by and for us. Think of our ancestors and imagine how they coped without any of these conveniences that we now have. Would you have survived?

The answer would be “of course, you would have,” for it was all that was known then.

It’s time to play a game of checkers or do something you did as a kid — but that game takes more than one. Maybe more family time together will be the outcome — at least it’s hopeful.

Meanwhile, keep the faith, and remember that hysteria is not only dangerous but contagious. I know no more than you of how long the pandemic will last. All we can do is to put it in God’s hands and pray.

Sherry Hill lives in Charleston.

Essays on Faith may be submitted to gazette@wvgazettemail.com.

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Funerals for Sunday, March 29, 2020

Clevenger, Ralph - Noon, Hodam Creek Cemetery, Hacker Valley.

Fox, Etta - 2 p.m., Blaine Memorial Cemetery, Cottageville.