As I start writing this piece today, I am reminded that March 29 was my father’s birthdate. I know that he, his parents, and his siblings lived through a lot.
Eleven children—eight boys and three girls, income came primarily through tenant farming in Alamance and Guilford counties in North Carolina. And there was something else—a will to survive and a grounding in faith.
From those eleven children, only one survives today, Harry, the youngest. He is our family historian. If you have a family question, chance are Harry has the answer.
There was sadness along the way.
One of the daughters Mabel Ann, died not too long after she came into this world, and the oldest son, Boyd, went down with the destroyer the USS Simms in the Coral Sea during World II. This was the result of an attack by Japanese planes.
I have no idea why I am sharing this history with you other than one word—perseverance.
Since the late spring of 1982, I have been running the roads through our neighborhoods Rollingwood, Westham, and College Hills. I say running, now it is more like the pace of a turtle.
I’ve run in rain, fog, snow flurries, frigid temperatures, high humidity, the surprise of an early morning thunderstorm, pristine dawns, and the changing of our seasons. But in all of those runs, I have never experienced the early morning silence brought on by COVID-19.
Gone are the squeaks and rattles of a passing school bus, along with the chatter of parents and their children at a bus stop.
Infrequent are the cars that zoom by in a rush on Westham Parkway whose drivers are trying to compensate for their tardiness.
It is so quiet that I can hear the plop of my heavy feet on the weather worn road surface, and my labored breathing inching up a hill like a tortoise.
My brain takes me back to a mission trip with our church youth group to Galveston, Texas. We were working on an old shotgun style framed house that Hurricane Ike had pounded.
As long as I live, I will never forget the heat and humidity of that trip. Returning from our lunch break on a sweltering afternoon, one of our youth noted—“not a single person was out.” The locals new the intensity of the mid-afternoon heat. They knew better. Only fools from Virginia working on that dilapidated house would be out in such misery.
It is no secret, COVID-19, has turned our world upside down.
We are so accustomed to turning clockwise in our daily routines. Now, we are in a counterclockwise spin.
The movements of a hurricane in our Northern hemisphere spin in a counterclockwise motion. That motion combined with many contributing factors build its formation, strength, and steering currents. I wonder what we might learn about our steering currents from this COVID-19 counterclockwise encounter?
COVID-19’s impact is like the pebble dropped into the flat, tranquil surface of a body of water. Those ripples from that singular drop are hitting everyone. No immunity exists. Disruption is guaranteed. How will we endure these circumstances?
I have noted in my runs that the silence is broken by the backdrop of birds singing, chirping, and pecking. Distinct among those sounds is the woodpecker. Talk about perseverance, the woodpecker defines it.
If you are looking for a book to read during this counterclockwise time, you might consider Erik Larson’s Issac’s Storm. This book is about the hurricane that devastated Galveston, Texas in September 1900. Larson focuses on Isaac Cline, the chief weather forecaster, for that part of Texas.
Larson says about Cline, “But this storm had dragged him into its heart and changed his life forever.”
COVID-19 will drag us into its heart and this pandemic will change lives forever too.
Upon reflection, we learned a lot about the Galveston hurricane.
I hope we have the courage to reflect and learn about COVID-19 as well.
Perhaps, you have a favorite Bible verse.
I am not an automatic Bible verse quoter. My brain is more likely to spout out a mindless song lyric (do wah diddy, diddy, dum, diddy do) than a Bible verse.
But, there is one verse that hangs around in my piddling gray matter from Hebrews 12:1. The last 13 words read: “and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
My grandparents, Charley and Izetta Pike knew something about perseverance, faith, and the race of life.
I pray we do too.