Well, friends, I have contracted the dreaded and maligned disease of our day, COVID-19. Since I will be quarantining for the next 10 days or so, and since I will likely have much time on my hands, I felt compelled to chronicle a bit of my experience with this terrible, microscopic demon, if for nothing else than to reflect on this experience in the future, should I be given that privilege. I’ll keep my thoughts (hopefully) brief, (hopefully) compelling, and (hopefully) relevant to our shared human experience in some way. As an additional preliminary note, my hope is not to categorically summarize the effect of the disease, or to somehow make myself a martyr; I have no epistemological privilege to perform such a description, and even if I possessed such a privilege, speaking for all instead of allowing the stories of those who have lived through it to be told is not an endeavor I’d wish to undertake. Thus this chronicle will simply consist of my reflections while grappling with this malicious malady. I hope you find something of value here over the next few days, and if you don’t, feel free to move right along to whatever this social media algorithm has cooked up to feed you.
Day 1 of Diagnosis: I first felt a few cold-like symptoms on Tuesday, prompting me to catch some early sleep into Wednesday. Upon waking, I had a fever of 100.5, and my body wanted nothing but to sleep. As the day progressed, the fever only worsened, despite my having taken Tylenol, escalating all the way to a balmy 104.3. My lovely and loving wife, Emily, being the care professional and amazing spouse that she is, insisted we go to the emergency department. I had a chest X-ray completed, along with a COVID swab, and slept early last night. The quick turnaround informed me of the diagnosis late this morning, at which time Emily and I promptly reviewed and contacted any folks who we have been in contact with over the last several days. Emily received a negative COVID test – I continue to have a low-grade fever, body aches, chills, and lots of chest congestion/coughing.
It has been a whirlwind two days, with plenty of time to reflect, pray, and read. One noteworthy aspect of the experience thus far has been the emphasis on solidarity I’ve felt God prompting me to take. So many in the world have been ravaged by this disease over the last 10 months or so, in many ways worse than I have; I have a young, relatively healthy body and immune system to assist in my combat, where others are largely devoid of such allies. This has also taken a personal turn, as a family member also contracted the disease and has been fighting it in the hospital for more than ten days. In this vein, I have reflected largely on two things:
1.) I have become convicted of my own tendency towards invincibility, and been reminded that the removal of my strength is often swift and severe. It is in this acute awareness of our fragility and mortality, the “numbering of our days” as the Psalmist puts it, that we find deep, transcendent wisdom. Particularly in a world that has been desperately grasping at vaporous and futile power (as recent demonstrations at the Capitol reveal), and often even in the name of God, we find quite the opposite present in the words of Scripture, which so clearly condemn such attempts at perpetuating ourselves and instead so emphasize the giving up of ourselves for one another, as Christ did for us.
2.) I have found myself, each time I feel particularly sorry for the state of my own condition, turned towards prayer, for my family member, for the world, and then for my own body. I do not say this out of a sense of elevated piety; my prayer in no way makes me more holy than anyone. Instead, I find a unity with my fellow humanity, one of shared (though not identical) suffering, and a presence of God that brings comfort and healing through this practice.
In many ways, this is likely longer than any of you are willing to sit through, but I hope you have found something of value here. Here’s to numbering our days and sparking new life from our own fragility! Cheers, friends.