There is a scene in the classic claymation film Chicken Run, where Ginger, the lead chicken says “Let’s not lose our heads” to which the other chickens say “Lose our heads?!” and run screaming. That’s basically the state of things at the moment. In the shop the other day as people were bulk-buying, an elderly French woman whispered: “It’s like the war.” People are acting like corona is akin to the nazis. That qualifies as losing our heads. We can approach things in a better way. It is a serious situation, and we shouldn’t rub our faces on one another, but panic and indulging in misinformation isn’t a good approach either. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to find a happy medium, and I think it’s going to be found taking proper precautions while delighting in good and humorous things.
This last week has been heavy with goodbyes as most of the students I know either relocate to their home countries or prepare to self-isolate. The store shelves have been wiped clean of things like rice and toilet paper. Last night my sleep was kept light with worries and the noise of my flatmate trying to decide whether she should go back to America or hole up here. It’s what we are all trying to do, what we all must do, as France has ordered all nonessential shops and such to shut their doors. Schools closed Monday and almost everywhere else closed midnight last night. Yet, even as I sit weirdly wide-eyed, I’m drawn to the dawn to acknowledge that even though doors are closing and the hospitals filling all around, the world keeps turning and spring cannot catch the corona virus. Things won’t be how anyone expected them to be, but they are going to be okay.
So much social distancing is going to be hard. That’s just an unavoidable sadness. Much of what I personally love doing here in France involves the FEU, our center for university students where we have Bible studies, English Thursdays, food distribution, and many other events. However, I have decided that instead of Love in the Time of Cholera, I’m making this a season of Education in the Time of Corona and focus on learning new things. I have a whiteboard and an internet full of things to learn. It’s going to be the strangest homeschooling situation of my life. Also, I live with a French family, so we are going to teach one another things as well. It’s not perfect, but it’s livable.
Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet once wrote, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” There are many things that can dull the shine out of a day. Certainly a mass exodus and dystopian-like living will do that, but there is also a constant hum of change and good things all around us. The winter will end because it must. Spring will come because the seasons have no other choice but to change. Even though we might feel sad or panicked now, there is joy available. We need to be active participants in our own happiness. We have a choice in how we spend this time of quarantine. We can choose to binge-watch everything on Netflix while gorging on canned soup or we can find better ways of living.
This is just a shortlist of better things to do than purchase that 10th pound of rice:
- Look for the good in the situation
- Help those we are responsible for, especially the most Vulnerable
- Paint, draw, sew, and do other creative endeavors
- Sing and make or play music
- Learn something new
- Invent new recipes
- Write a book
- Facetime friends
Most things are survivable, we just need to stay calm, look for the good, and lean into God. It's a wild time, so stay safe and happy quarantine time!