Dear Covid: Pastor writes letter to deadly virus

I’d like to say goodbye, but if even if you linger, ‘I’ve taken some positives’ from your intrusion

BY DAVID WHITLOCK

Guest Columnist

Dear Covid et al.,

I’ve hesitated about writing, but you might as well know how I feel about you since you left me months ago. I was grateful to be over you and was hoping never to see the likes of you again, but they tell me you and all your cousins, variants they call them, will be a permanent fixture of our lives from now on. You’re all the same to me, though you come at us with your fancy names. And though your travels take you around the globe, you carry the same ol’ bad news everywhere you go: fear, sickness, and death.

Just when we thought it was safe to take off our masks, jump, and sing together again, there you go, plopping yourself in the middle of our playground, like the Grinch who stole Christmas, sending us scurrying back inside to the privacy of our rooms.

They tell me you are so smart, so clever, and so innovative that you can mutate, surreptitiously slithering through the shield of protection our vaccines were supposed to provide.

Speaking of “vaccine,” you have created a Covid vocabulary with words and phrases like: “efficacy,” “epidemiologists,” “contact tracing,” and “herd immunity.” Quite frankly, Covid, I’m weary of the parlance. When the news reporters engage in the jargon, they plaster images of people or organizations that remind me of you. Therefore I find myself prejudging people, politicians, and institutions I didn’t know or care about until you. Thanks to you, I have to deal with a new dimension of another shortcoming in my life.

And since I’ve raised the issue of prejudgment, do you realize what you’ve done, Covid? You’ve managed to divide us into the “vaccinated” vs. the “unvaccinated,” the “masked” vs. the “unmasked,” the “conspiracy theorists,” vs. the “purveyors of ‘fake news.’” OK, I’ll grant that you may have brought out the inevitable, but you certainly hastened the divide among us. You’ve managed to make yourself known in such safe havens as churches, not so much through bombastic preaching as through our various opinions of and reactions to you, Covid.

Do you see what you’ve done? You’ve even got me singing Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues:” “…    make me want to holler/And throw up both my hands…” And the sad thing is, I live in a rural community.

I know what you can do to a body. You and I have a personal history. Need I remind you? You put me in isolation for a couple of weeks back in January. After you left, I wondered about the lingering effects you might have on my mind and body and whether you would come back to haunt me. I’m ashamed to confess how much I thought about you after I had my second vaccination. That’s when I experienced a mild case of vertigo, a condition I’d never known before you. Was it the vaccine, or were you somehow worming your way back into my life in some mysterious way? You perplex me, I admit. Anyway, vertigo disappeared after a few weeks, and here I am: vibrant, vital, and armed with an arsenal of antibodies to ward you off. So, back atcha, Covid.

Now, here you are again, you pesky, little mutant. You’ve figured out a way to get through. So, today, I’m back in mask mode, and if I’m not wearing it, I’m again trying to remember if I washed my hands after that overly friendly person I don’t know reached out to embrace me.

I want to say goodbye to you, but if you insist on hanging around, at least know I’ve taken some positives from your uninvited intrusion. You’ve reminded me of things I already knew but had taken for granted, things like being with family and the healing power that has; the sheer peace and joy of getting into the outdoors, with simple things like a walk, or working in a garden, and how that reconnects me with nature and others; the fact that being busy does not always equate to being effective. Yes, Covid, before you, I’m afraid I had drifted into a cycle of work-related activity, much of which was unnecessary.

So, you see, Covid, as bad a rap as you have, you did do something positive for me. But, before you think you’re OK with me, let me tell you, you squirmy, pesky, low-down, good-for-nothing, life-threatening, vaccine-adaptive variant: don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

David Whitlock, Ph.D., is the pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church in Marion County. He can be reached at drdavid@davidwhitlock.org. His website is www.davidwhitlock.org. This column is reprinted from The Lebanon Enterprise.