Holiness in our Midst: Session 91

Holiness in our Midst


Story Circle Prompt: How has the coronavirus affected your life?

It was on the first day of spring, March 20, 2020, that I understood what the Facebook philosophers and cable commentators meant as they said things like: “The good old days were two weeks ago,” and “Life will never again be the same.” Almost overnight, as the Coronavirus pandemic reached into my hometown of Nevada, IA, every aspect of my existence was altered.

My daily rounds, for instance. For years, I have merrily chit-chatted my way through the days, first enjoying breakfast with the regulars at local restaurants. As I live and breathe, I neighbor. (Yes, “neighbor” is a verb, meaningto associate in a neighborly way.” And the dictionary definition of “neighborly” is characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly, or kind.”). On that Friday, as I drove through town on my way to the bank, I was in a state of shock. Central Elementary School and the community school resource center were closed. The Nevada Public Library had this sign: STAY SAFE. WE ARE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. The First United Methodist Church was closed. Its sign read: 9 AM SUNDAY: LIVESTREAM SERMON ON FACEBOOK. Downtown Nevada was a ghost town, except for restaurants serving take-out, and a few retailers. I reached Great Western Bank. The lobby was closed. The drive-through was open, but I needed to talk to a teller. On my way to Fareway for groceries, I drove by my hair salon, the Rusty Razor on Lincoln Way. There was a car out front, much to my relief, because I depend on Lorry to make me presentable enough to go out in public. (Unfortunately, the shop is now temporarily closed.) Fareway was open, a very good thing, though there was a sign by the carts that said: OUT OF WIPES…SORRY! I was able to stock up on supplies, an oasis of normalcy in my otherwise social desert. My first human contact of the day was with the young man who took my groceries to the car. “I guess there’s no place to go but home,” I said to make conversation.  “At least you don’t have to deal with toilet paper fiends,” he said, putting a positive spin on my social isolation. I smiled, silently blessing him for activating my inner funny during this personal trauma.

Since the initial shock, I’ve tried to adjust to the new normal. My church connections and community volunteer roles are lived out differently, as places of worship and non-profits close physical spaces. We at First Christian Church in Ames stay sweetly together through regular worship and prayer times on Zoom. On a recent Sunday, worshipping at home, my pastor suggested we use the elements at hand to participate in Communion. I chose a piece of slider bun and V-8 juice in the absence of unleavened bread and grape juice. Community organizations are also meeting through phone and computer links. Rightly, the instant historians have termed this new era, The Great Adaptation.

How has work changed for this culinary server at an assisted living center? Meals are now served in rooms rather than in the communal dining area. I’m a touchy-feely kind of person, suddenly thrust in a socially distanced workplace. I’m still a feely person, but without being able to offer service with a gentle physical touch. This is hard!

The virus has put a crimp in my style, but I still neighbor whenever I can. Others are doing the same, I note. I wave to persons cycling or walking their dogs. They wave back. Recently, I saw a pink sign with floral balloons. It said, “HONK! I AM 40 TODAY!” I honked.

“What are the gains from this time?” an astute friend asked. Upon reflection, I said that I find myself treating this time alone like a gift of a sabbatical. In the quiet and solitude, however enforced, I’ve come up with my list of essentials. I now know that I cannot live without work, family chats, church, social justice causes, friends, nature walks (I’ve noticed that birds have not yet enforced social distancing…), legal pads, black Flair pens, Chlorox wipes, toilet paper, newspapers (the paper kind), and M & Ms. What are your essentials?



  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, explore the following: Record on paper a day in your life since the pandemic. As an additional exercise: Remember on paper a day in your life before the current pandemic.


  1.   Read aloud Session XCI.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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