Monday, June 15, 2020
I’m planning a vacation this summer. Such ordinary words and yet I hesitate to admit it. What will people say?
The plans for a summer road trip with four of my youngest grandchildren have been in place since January. I found a route called the Majestic Mountain Loop that promises three national parks in three days: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite. Two years ago we set a similar challenge–six missions in four days–and we had a wonderful time. But this year is different.
For one thing, there’s a pandemic. Well, actually, that’s the only thing. If you read too much advice about road trips in this pandemic year you can come down with a severe case of analysis paralysis. But I think common sense will work fine. We all know about social distancing, handwashing, sanitizing, and masks. We’ll spend a lot of time outdoors. I’ve mapped out the trip, 855 miles of it, all in the state of California.
Luckily Yosemite National Park opened Friday. They have a limited number of day passes, so all I have to do is reserve them on July 1 for our August arrival. We’ve already confirmed our Cedar Lodge reservations outside the park. Sequoia opened about two weeks ago. So here’s hoping. I am SO ready to do something normal. Or as normal as anything gets these days.
This was the weekend that churches were allowed to open. Ours didn’t, but they sent out a survey. I know the churches are limited by state and CDC guidelines as to how many people they can have inside, sanitizing, masks, distancing, etc. I would love to see everyone again. Still when I answered the survey, I said I think I’ll stay on Zoom.
Although it seemed strange and remote at first, church on Zoom has become a community to me. I see people I know sitting in their garden or living room (or occasionally outer space). As we appear on the screen we can greet each other and wave, but during the service we are on mute. However, we can still say the responses, sing the hymns (words on the screen), hear the choir anthem (sung separately by the four leads and skillfully put together), submit our prayer requests in real time via chat, and at the end we unmute ourselves to say good-bye. Alone in my room, I sing at the top of my voice and feel the joy in my heart.
If they open up next week, we will walk in masked and six feet apart, have our temperature checked, sit apart. No hugs. No singing. I’ll wait. Zoom is a warm community for me now. It seems all the more comfortable because I see some of the same people on Zoom for Bible study and book club.
In asking others about their experiences, I’ve found that larger congregations organize on line worship services differently. The Catholics in our family attend Mass by instant streaming on You Tube which can be very beautiful. They now have the choice to return to church if they are ready, but they have to make a reservation. My Buddhist neighbor joins her temple on Zoom as audio only, but when smaller groups gather to hear a lecture they have both audio and visual and they can ask questions. My daughter’s church community gather in their cars on Sunday morning, where they can see the minister and the worship team on a platform and hear them on the car radio. I begin to realize that my experience is only my experience and my answer is only the one my mind has been conditioned to accept.
Three months of pandemic and we are not the same.
Today’s Notable Headlines
“Sequoia & Kings Canyon are latest California national parks to start reopening,” Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2020. https://www.latimes.com/travel/story/2020-06-01/sequoia-kings-canyon-california-national-park-to-reopen
“Yosemite National Park Officially Reopens,” Canyon News, June 14, 2020. https://www.canyon-news.com/yosemite-national-park-officially-reopens/118024
“California’s starting to reopen hotels. Hawaii just extended its shutdown,” Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2020. https://news.yahoo.com/californias-starting-reopen-hotels-hawaii-185505008.html
Why am I doing this?
The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.
You are on History’s Edge.