You know the "pan" is in pandemic when you find a diagram of the coronavirus on the wall of a home in Bundibugyo. I was intrigued by the personification of those eyes; the medical detail of the protein spikes; the smear of mud on mud to make it adhere.
Adherent to the front of the house, some kind of tag, warning, or an attempt to ward off the evil? I asked a lady I recognized who was greeting us, and she ran around the corner of her house and ripped the paper down, muttering something about the children, then turned to us and affirmed "Ruhanga enka." Only God.
We are all in this same boat. In Iran, we read today, a viral meme about whiskey-and-lemon as a cure for the common cold plus the confusing insistence on high-potency alcohol hand gel, in a country where alcoholic drinks are forbidden, has led to hundreds of people sickened and even dying from the ingestion of toxic industrial methanol. The CDC had to warn Americans against purchasing an additive meant for fish in aquaria that contained chloroquine in the ingredient list, after reports emerged of toxic ingestions to ward off corona. We all want a way to feel safer. For many of us that's information. Reading the literature, checking the stats, examining who died and who did not, clinging to the reasons to assume ourselves into that 85% camp with an almost-assured recovery. For others the fear stokes latent anti-other feelings. Some African communities are threatening to harm anyone from other places, and we don't exactly blend in well. Some American states don't want anyone with out-of-state tags passing through. Yes we should respect the basics of hygiene and socially responsible (read, LIMITED), movement. Yes, we should embrace this season of the hibernation, the limit, the small. It is however heartbreaking to see the way that crisis reveals not only hidden generosity and goodness, but also darker realities.
Uganda's cases now number 30; all our neighbouring countries have slowly accumulating counts as well, except for a couple that are either very isolated or very reluctant to test or most likely, both, with zero. The five suspect cases from our hospital on Friday were all tested negative by Saturday night. So we still find ourselves in the peculiar position of brace. Of watching our families in the USA and UK become more and more hemmed in, surrounded. Of some of our kids working long hours in the hospital or garden; of other family members spending their days to protect the vulnerable by keeping our older or immune-challenged people set apart. While we wait for our environment to become like theirs, only without 90% of the response capacity.
while living in the tension that we can't control the story, but we know the one who is writing it can bring good yet.
And while you're at it, remember the Psalms (like 121 above). This song echoes 126 (and Rev 21). I also keep going back to 46 and 23 and 27. And 42 with echoes of Jonah. Or Psalm 91. Post your favourite Psalms and songs for this time.