Parishioners and clergy alike have lately been combing through parish records, searching for clues as to what life was like during the flu pandemic of 1918. Someday, probably sooner than we think, the things we are experiencing today will be fading memories. A hundred years from now, members of the St. Bartholomew's community will be asking what life was like during the coronavirus pandemic. We have an opportunity to answer their question today.
St. Bart's is collecting personal reflections about what we have been thinking and feeling and doing during this historic time. These reflections will be posted to this webpage as well as preserved in church records. In the Nicene Creed, we affirm our belief in the communion of saints. We are in communion with all those who will come after us, and someday they will want to hear from us.
We are all in this together. Those words are as true today as they have ever been. It is also true that we are each experiencing this as the unique individuals that we are. Because you are an integral part of our faith community, our message to posterity can never be complete without your contribution. Please take a little time to share your own personal reflection.
Submitting Your Reflection:
Please submit your reflection to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can post it to this webpage.
Please indicate whether you want your reflection to include your first name, or first and last name, or the name of your family e.g. "The Jones Family"
Be sure to check back periodically to see what your friends and neighbors have had to say, and thank you for being part of this project.
Some thoughts on living through the Covid Pandemic
Here we are in our ninth month of constantly shifting situations, goals, regulations and emotions caused by the restrictions of the ‘Covid Pandemic.’ We don’t know where we’ll be, as a community, on a day-to-day basis. Some thoughts and comparisons come to mind since I survived another outbreak of disease that had some similarities and some striking differences: polio.
Summers in Southern California and other warm areas of the country meant outbreaks of polio. That bug liked to be warm so it wintered over in the soils in warm areas where there was enough winter sun to keep the soil warm. The it got to work when the air and water got nice and warm, too. The disease was quite contagious, but preferred the younger victims rather than the elderly and/or those with pre-existing conditions. The March of Dimes had been raising money to develop a vaccine and there were several getting close to trials. (Sound familiar?)
I was six that hot summer. I took swim lessons with three other kids who would start school with me in the fall. One of them had a pool so we didn’t have to go into town. We lived on an orange ranch. We had ‘play dates’ long before there was such a term. They happened when mother arranged for someone to come play for 1/2 a day or for her to take me to someone else’s for 1/2 a day. We also got one on ‘bridge day’. The interesting part of all this was that our parents weren’t keeping us completely separated from others - quarantined, if you will. In town, the roller rink was busy, the theater had no restrictions and the drive-ins (both theaters and restaurants) were busy. The library was also busy with older kids trying to get their summer reader certificates. In my Sunday school class, one boy was in the hospital with polio but he also had something else nasty and was ultimately sick for months. Otherwise there wasn’t a great deal of talk about polio and no evidence of changes in life because the summer was particularly hot and numbers of sick children were climbing.
I remember my first day of encounter with polio vividly. It was a swim day, for which I was glad because it was horribly hot. (No one had air conditioning, let alone televisions, private line telephones, or most of the rest of the things be believe we cannot live without today.) However, when we got to the pool. I jumped in the water and nearly froze. I got out and was nearly burning up but the water was too cold to get in. We went home immediately and I went to bed while Mother called the doctor. We were told to stay at home so as not to expose the not-so-sick kids in the waiting room at the doctor’s office and the doctor would make a house call after he finished his scheduled day.
I guess he got there; I don’t remember. His instructions to my parents were to keep me in bed (I was not even to talk to be bathroom; my feet were not to touch the floor), give me children’s aspirin and as many liquids as I would take. No one was to come into the house who had not ben in our home within the last three days. The only real hard part for them was if they couldn’t control my fever, they would have to decide whether to risk certain physical impairment and take me to the county hospital, the only one taking polio patients, to avoid the certain brain damage from too high of a fever. I don’t member anything of the next three weeks.
May next memory was waking up in the bathtub in the middle of the night and I had ice cubes in the tub with me. My father was sitting on the edge of the tub studying for a class he was taking in hopes of getting a job with the State. When I realized I was awake, he checked my temperature and told me my fever had broken and we’d get me ready to go back to bed. He wrapped me in a sheet rinsed in the ice water and then wrung dry, and put me into bed with a single-layer lotion flannel sheet on top.
The doctor proclaimed me on the mend but indicated my feet were not to touch the floor for another couple of weeks and we’d see where we were.
After the couple of weeks, he came out to the house again and did a fairly complete orthopedic and neurological exam. Finally he turned me to the side of the bed and told me to stand up. I did; but not only were my feet on the floor; my ankle bones were on the floor as well. Back into bed.
He wrote out a prescription which he gave my parents and told them I was not to walk until it was filled and then I was not to even walk to the bathroom without me lovely new high-topped, shanked and wedged, brown oxfords. They were the first thing on in the morning and the last thing off at night. But, I was walking.
When I was able to start school about three weeks behind my class, there were 21 or 22 of us and 5 of us had had polio that summer, so it was hitting large numbers of kids. My Sunday school class of about 8 had 3-4 victims; however all but one of us had the same pediatrician and he had directed the others to stay home (quarantined, if you will) with the same instructions we’d had and there were lots of shiny new brown high-top oxfords!
I only know of 3 adults who contracted polio that summer and all three were physicians. Jonas Salk announced his vaccine the following spring, and before school let out for the summer, we were unceremoniously lined up by class and given our polio shots.
It was a totally different time; without television and communication at nano-second speed, we didn’t know from day to day how many people were sick. And the whole of society didn’t have to stay home nearly all the time. But the most important things - the ones we still need in this Covid mess - we had: weekly phone calls with\ Grandma. Twice weekly visits from Grammy (she’d been there the day before I had symptoms so wasn’t excluded) bearing groceries. Get-well cards instead of e-mails. Family members of two and four legs who spent extra time in the sick room, just keeping company.
And, despite the distraction and worry, my father passed his test and got the job.
November 7, 2020
ABOUT THE COVID AND ME AND ST BARTS
If you are reading this in 2030 or 2040 I hope things are going
well for you. It is 2020 here as I write this and it is the worst
world wide time probably since the 14 th century in Europe-
(Black Death, Bubonic Plague). Our pandemic began this year
in China in January and arrived here in the USA in February. We
call it COVID19 or the Corona virus.
Beginning in March we were required to stay at home. I did
that for 3 months and it was easier than I thought it would be. I
knitted Christmas stockings for my great grandchildren and
talked to friends on the phone. My family brought me food.
Our priest, the Rev. Jeffrey Littlefield, figured out how to send
the Sunday service out to the congregation with technology (I
don’t know how that works!) I have so appreciated seeing the
service but missed seeing my church community.
In July we could be out a little bit – to the gym and restaurants
etc. with limited distance between us and a low number of
people together at once. Our number of sick people went
It is now November and our sick numbers are off the charts!!
We still have virtual church. After seeing the service we can
drive through the parking lot and get a tiny chalice with a tiny
square of wafer and a sip of wine. I miss everyone soo much! I
love that we are worshipping together but miss seeing them all.
For many years I have led a small group of ladies – the Tuesday
Morning Ladies Group! We called each other for a while and
tried meeting in my back yard for a month in August. But I
finally had to learn ZOOM – a way we can be together on our
computers and/or phones and we are happily back together.. It
is not the same but we are happy to see each other, read our
book and discuss and chat together.
In late October my furnace failed and it was several days before
it could be repaired. My house was 53 degrees. My son got me
a space heater and I did fine throughout the 7 days before heat
came back. And after all was well, I sat on bed and sobbed for
a while. The virus makes us strong for a while and we talk
about how great we are doing. And then we collapse for a bit.
It is a hard time. Right now our numbers of sick people are
huge!! Scary! But we love each other, family and church friends
and people we know in the community – all coming together
with love and caring – doing the best we can with God’s help.
Dee Mahuna – Member of the Vestry
80 years old
When we were told that we were to self-quarantine I went all out. Not leaving the house. No, not at all. Oops I’m on Altar Guild. Masks? No Masks? Oops I have to go grocery shopping. I learned to shop online and drive to the store where some poor sole brought it to my car and put it in the trunk. I need my receipt. No? Maybe you can find it online. Well this isn’t going anywhere fast. That started my desire to be in the store and after a month braved the store with mask and gloves. Have my receipt and when the mistakes are made, I find them right away. I also pick out my own produce.
Gardening became fun and once the garden stores went into full swing, expensive. But remember fun. The cutting garden and the Memorial Garden at the church became delightful to work in especially when people came and helped. Easy to keep 6 feet when working in a garden.
Life changed abruptly, and I realized it might never be the same again. In the six months I’ve had a lot of time to think and clean not only the attic but a lot on my mind. What is important, what has become important, what has been lost and what has been found.
The grief that is always there for my youngest child came back in vengeance. I had stored her belongings in the attic and now had to go through them. What do you do with the things that were important to a teenager you loved? I kept thinking I want someone else to enjoy them, but how?
Then there were the boxes of my older 2 children that they had left when the moved out. That’s easy you have them come get them. HAAAAA!!!! After asking my daughter many times if I could bring them to her and she explained that she was cleaning out her stuff and had no room. I finally got it. They went on a trip and I stayed at their house. Into the garage went 7 boxes. The son’s boxes were a little more difficult because he is in Ashland. 2 boxes went with a friend. Now we will take the rest at Thanksgiving.
Now there are 9 boxes filled with family photos on all sides of all the families going back to the Civil War. Does anyone know who the nice lady in the long dress is? She’s standing in a garden next to a chair. I don’t know where the garden is, let alone the chair. Call the cousins.
Then there were relationships. Some of them became stronger. We would talk a lot and see each other at 6 feet. Texting became even more so than before, and email became a necessity. And Zoom. Did those people come to the rescue at the right time? How did they survive during the flu epidemic? One relationship was lost. They decided to change their way of dealing by dropping a group of people as friends. It went into another grief. Our families started out not coming near and finally decided that none of us went anywhere so we made the decision not to quarantine from each other.
A cabin became a lifeline. The family met up there and spent great time. Got all the wood in for the winter and we cleaned (I’m getting tired of cleaning) anything that didn’t move and a couple of things that were moving. Stu decided to spend most of the time up there because with his health issues and he felt safer. He has rebuilt the wood storage area, chopped more wood, and repaired all things that looked like they needed repairing. Long walks in the forest are good for the soul.
So, what has been learned? God is with me all the time. He once told me to lean on him when I was in deep grief and I hope I will always lean on him. Being able to have Eucharist has been a lifeline. My friends are wonderful people, and we will figure out ways to communicate. Organizations I belong to outside the church think of ways to nurture people. We even had a zoom trip to Ireland one morning. It isn’t the life I would have picked for this year, but it is the life we’ve been delt. I’ve learned and grown and really come to enjoy it in many ways
For a thousand years the Church has said
that Ordinary Time ends at Advent, that special season
of waiting through the darkness.
Who am I to buck that ancient calendar?
Yet I maintain there’s been no “ordinary time”
since that brief window
between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday,
when we bent our heads and took the smudgy cross.
The clouds were a smudge then too, on the horizon:
no hint of the storm to come.
Back in Ordinary Time, my knees would ache
during the ancient prayers of penitence.
Above my head, the ceiling stretched upward,
like beseeching hands clasped in prayer.
The penitence is deeper now,
a longing to kneel and ache again
beneath the ceiling that has prayed
all this time, alone.
Father, Son and Spirit - have mercy on Your people
in the season of long nights,
who work and watch,
wonder and weep,
and wait for Ordinary Time.
- Debbie Raber
Please consider adding your own reflections....a few sentences or many paragraphs....you choose what you want those who come after us to know about this Most Unusual Time.
Email your reflections to email@example.com
Thank you and stay healthy!