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As a song says, what a difference a day makes!
On the last Sunday in May, my daughter called after church, to say that she might have found me a dog. She worries about me living alone since my wife died. Especially when Covid-19 isolation restricts me from visiting others, or having them visit me.
By 3:00 that afternoon, I had a dog named Pippin.
After three months of isolation, I feel like a February groundhog emerging into the brightness of a new day.
I am no longer alone.
I have someone who needs me.
What a difference a dog makes.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: relationships, COVID-19, isolation
It’s hard to keep up with the rate of change. The other day, a news report announced that Army and Navy stores were closing.
I remember Army and Navy as the place to go to get stuff cheap. The late Sam Cohen founded Army and Navy in Vancouver 101 years ago, as a war surplus outlet. The Great War was over. He could get goods at going-out-of-business prices; hence the Army and Navy title.
The same week, news stories said the Reitman’s clothing chain was filing for bankruptcy. Even the survival of the venerable Hudson’s Bay Company was in doubt.
HBC is almost synonymous with Canada itself. The first Canadian limited-liability corporation, maybe the world’s first. Founded in 1670, before Canada was even a country. Opened the west to English trade. Made the world’s warmest blankets.
I can no more imagine Canada happening without the HBC than without the CPR.
Tags: COVID-19, Hudson's Bay Company, Army and Navy stores, Sam Cohen
A battered yellow booklet called “International Certificates of Vaccinations” tells me that I have been vaccinated against smallpox, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, paratyphoid (A and B), polio, typhoid, pneumonia, hepatitis A, tetanus, typhus, mumps, and both kinds of measles.
Every one of those used to cause epidemics.
The only difference between an epidemic and what’s now called a pandemic is that a pandemic also affects people you don’t know on the other side of the world. Locally, the effects of epidemic and pandemic are identical. People get sick. Some die.
Because of my vaccinations, I needn’t fear any of those diseases. But an 80-year-old woman wrote to Dr. Keith Roach, author of a syndicated newspaper column, “I will never willingly get a vaccination for anything."
Tags: COVID-19, pandemic, vaccines, Jenner, Dr. Keith Roach
A new word crept into the language while I wasn’t watching – “liminal”. None of my dictionaries include it. And they were only published 20 years ago.
Not “limn,” which means to paint or portray.
“Liminal” derives from Latin “limen” meaning the threshold of a doorway. It marks the division between inside and outside, between warm and cold, between calm and stormy.
It is the moment of transition, when one state of being transforms into another.
A liminal moment is easy to identify if it’s a doorway. It’s more difficult with geography, for example. Exactly where would you say the mountains end and the prairie begins? Which do the foothills belong to?
Or with light. At what point, as light fades, does day become night?
Tags: Rohr, COVID-19, Liminal
I would not want to be a refugee. Pictures of them suggest they’re in shock, traumatized by the life they have chosen to leave behind. Civil wars. Poverty. Famine. Religious repression. Militias with licence to kill.
Refugees have hope, of course – they hope for freedom from poverty, from oppression, from persecution.
But they have left so much behind. So much that was dear to them. Businesses that they sank their heart and soul into, with a clientele built over years, maybe even generations. Extended families -- aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, nieces and nephews, sometimes their own children. Languages and customs familiar since infancy.
All given up for a new life they don’t know yet, they can’t know yet.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: refugees, COVID-19, religions
I am soooooooo sick of Covid-19. Let me correct any misimpression – I am not sick WITH Covid-19. I don’t have chills, fever, or cough. I don’t have difficulty breathing. And I’m not in intensive care.
I am sick OF Covid-19 the same way I’m sick of Donald Trump. And Brexit. And the way I used to be sick of the Democratic primaries in the U.S. Now, Bernie Sanders can throw in the towel and earn only a two-inch space on an inside page.
Surely something else is going on in the world other than Covid-19?
Has Norway slid into the North Sea? Has Luxembourg declared war on Botswana? Has the Taliban professed Franklin Graham as their Lord and Saviour?
In the current pandemic of pandemic news coverage, how would anyone know?
The media’s obsession with Covid-19 makes me wonder what we might be overlooking. I suggest that three pervasive myths have had a stake driven through their hearts,
Tags: individualism, COVID-19, Reaganomics, Anthropocene
People say to me, “When all this is over,” as if everything will return to normal -- whatever they think normal is -- as soon as the Covid-19 furore ends.
I doubt if things will ever go back to normal. At least, not to what we used to consider normal.
This may seem like a bleak subject for an Easter weekend, but it’s relevant – please read on.
A disease does not go away simply by restricting its transmission.
Suppose that Dr. Bonnie Henry’s isolation measures eliminate the Covid-19 virus within B.C. No new cases show up for, say, a whole month. All current cases recover. Our province becomes Covid-free.
The only way to stay Covid-free would be to deny entry to anyone who comes from anywhere that is not equally Covid-free. Other provinces, and neighbouring U.S. states, to say nothing of the rest of the world. Otherwise the transmission ripples start all over again.
Tags: COVID-19, pandemic, normal, vaccines
My grocery store has a sign up at its cash registers: “Due to the COVID-19 virus, we no longer accept reusable grocery bags.” Instead, they’ll give away free plastic bags.
Not that long ago, the same store encouraged reusable bags, to cut back on single-use plastic bags made from fossil fuels that ended up in landfill sites. Or swirling around the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
I cite that as a single instance of the way the coronavirus panic is suddenly upsetting -- rightly or wrongly -- many of the notions that we used to take for granted.
Tags: COVID-19, pandemic, distancing, isolation
It all makes me reconsider the purpose of a funeral or memorial service.
It’s not simply an occasion for glowing eulogies.
The popular term “Celebration of Life” seems to me to be both a euphemism and a misnomer. We may indeed celebrate who that person WAS. But we do it because she ISN’T.
We don’t sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” at “celebrations of life.” Or warble “For she’s a jolly good fellow…” We don’t jive in the aisles, pop balloons, or light fireworks.
No. We gather to grieve.
Tags: grief, COVID-19, funerals, memorial services
As Scott Gilmore editorialized in Maclean’s, “It’s not the end of the world, it just feels that way.”
Gilmore recalled his childhood days, reading a framed poem on a church wall. He assumed it must be “a piece of ancient wisdom, a psalm from the Old Testament.”
It was neither. It was a prayer written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, in the 1930s:
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s commonly called the “Serenity Prayer.” Alcoholics Anonymous popularized it. Other self-help programs have picked it up.
Are prayers the answer to today’s chaos?
Tags: prayer, COVID-19, Scott Gilmore, Macleans, Desiderata