The Better Part of Wisdom


Smile of the day: In case you’ve lost track, today is March 91st. 

30 days ago, March came in like a lamb here in Michigan. I don’t recall the specific high temp that day, but we didn’t have to deal with icy roads and no one used the word “snowmageddon” – so that’s enough of a lamb for these parts. I told Mike, that day, to be ready. When March comes in like a lamb it often goes out like the proverbial lion. I’ve seen that enough times to know it can happen. Late March, and even April, are the times of year that Michigan loves to scoff at spring and prove that the calendar doesn’t know what it’s talking about. 

And here we are, waving goodbye to March in the grips of a pandemic. We check “the counts” a couple of times a day. They’re worse every time, especially in our county just now. We watch the task force briefings and I celebrate a little each day that really smart people – Drs. Fauci, Birx, and Adams – have commanded the attention of America. We get a daily refresher course on immunology, on data driven decision making, and on statistical modeling.

Always kind of a geeky sort of girl, I like that stuff. 

30 days from now, I don’t know exactly where we’ll be with all this. Still indoors, yes. Still washing our hands. That’s for sure. But those statistical models tell us that even at the best of circumstances there will be some heartache facing us in the next 30 days. Dr. Birx talked today about “the stark realities.” I admit, it can be scary.

I’m not one to be motivated by fear. I’m not one to worry. Early in life I learned the difference between worry and concern, and that I was better off to spend a little energy on a prayer every now and then instead of spending that energy on worry.  

This weekend, Mike and I spent some time sharing concerns, some time praying, and some time listening to doctors. We made a decision that was a tough one: For now, we are stepping back from our work at our church’s local food bank. 

Mike has done everything imaginable in that building, fueled by knowledge gained from a lifetime in the food industry – inventory and food handling and checking the freezers and lots more. He learned to drive a big truck to deliver food halfway across Michigan, and south into Ohio, and sees the faces of those who show up early for a load of groceries. He heard a story, one cold Wednesday, from a woman who had gotten confused about her delivery date and came up short. She’d tried to sell plasma to get a little extra money; they only allow plasma donation twice a week so that didn’t work out either.  

As for me, I spend fewer hours volunteering every week than Mike does, but I handle every single request coming in to the office. The computer system is slow, churning along even at 7 in the morning. I get impatient. But then I catch myself. I think of the moms on the receiving end of those requests. (It’s always the moms I think about.) I think of the pure luxury they will feel, making choices about what to serve for dinner on Friday night – maybe a big pot of spaghetti with a side of applesauce, or breakfast for dinner complete with French toast and sausage. 

And every so often, I spot a request that includes a cake mix. Maybe it’s just my imagination but I always think, “Someone is going to be able to have a birthday cake.” To step away from this work – the work of helping someone have a birthday cake – is very hard for me. 

Here’s the truth. Mike and I are both in a risk category. We’re both “a certain age.” Growing up, Mike had bout after bout of pneumonia and landed in Oaknoll Naval hospital, having part of his left lung  removed. None of that bodes well for hanging out in groups of people right now. Not even smallish groups of kind, caring people.

It’s an odd situation, this pandemic. We want to serve others, but the better part of wisdom says not to. We will try to be wise even when it’s hard, and want you to try too. This next couple of weeks could be a pretty rough ride. 

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