Coronavirus, 6 days later, post

Some reflections. Wow, it’s been quite a wild ride already. Written 3/17/20.

Marilyn, I, Rachel, and Diane went to Washington, DC for spring break (March 7-12, 2020). The coronavirus (COVID-19) was already a big concern before we left home.  Luke decided not go.  Good decision.

We had a great 5 days, going to the (new) African American Museum of History and Culture, the (new) Museum of the Bible, a great Segway ride, Mount Vernon, and the Chart House restaurant.

We were scheduled to leave Thursday (March 12), so that I could attend a 2-day math conference in Chicago (which ended up being cancelled).

Wednesday (March 11) night, after we walked home from the Chart House, the Internet lit up.  Things came crashing down and the snowball really started to roll.  They cancelled the NCAA ‘Big Dance’ basketball tournament, the NBA, and on and on (I could list 50 more examples, but I won’t).  Thursday morning, as we were getting ready to get on the plane for home, all the newspaper headlines were ’emergency,’ ‘panic button,’ ‘ring the bell,’ etc.  As we sat in the airport, all my spring math conferences (for example) and everything was being cancelled.  By the weekend they closed the Smithsonian museums (some 20 or so).  So, we can say we were some of the last few hundred to go through the new African American Museum of History and Culture! For me, that Wednesday evening, 6 days ago, will stick in my memory.

We are so glad we had plane tickets to come home Thursday, rather than staying a whole week. The plane was only 2/3 full.

WIU will have no classes for an extra week after spring break and then we are to deliver our courses in an ‘alternative format.’  We/I have started the planning for that.  I will not be turning Math 100 into an online course (for many reasons).  The instruction will still be at the normal meeting time, MWF 11-11:50 am.  We will use Google Hangouts Meet.Old wood bats

The Macomb HS students were on the Denmark trip.  It was decided to have them come home early.  It turned out, just in the nick of time.  President Trump has now restricted planes coming in from Europe. (Again, more could be said. This is a news report. This is a reflection.)

We did have one Sunday of church worship (3/15).  It was very settling for me.  Pastor Scott Grulke had on the schedule (which was set months ago) the sermon topic of healing.  He gave an excellent message on healing. I got to do the children’s sermon and also be the second adult in the youth SS class.  I enjoyed it. Kathy Grulke is a wonderful teacher with a great personality and approach.  OK, next Sunday, and for the foreseeable future we will not have the congregation in church but putting the services online.Two sections of today's paper.

Today I took a run. I’m glad I can still do that.  I’m scheduled to run a half marathon at the Drake Relays. OK, that might not happen.  I’m following Jeff Galloway’s half marathon prep plan.  I’m thankful it’s going pretty well.

On my runs I’ve been listening to The Gospel In Life podcast sermons by Tim Keller.  They are great.  He is doing a lengthy series on sin.  Wow, you’d think it would be a downer, but Pastor Keller is wonderful at teaching for understanding and showing that being rooted in God and trusting in Jesus is the good news.  It is amazing to me how each sermon in the series is different and how he seems to take it to a higher (deeper) level as the series progresses.  It is a good series for me.  We need to continually humble ourselves and be rooted in God and trust in Jesus.

Walking back from my run I had two fairly long, driveway discussions with neighborhood men/friends.  One (retired) neighbor was cleaning out his garage. We had a nice chat. He was actually getting rid of a couple old ball bats (no one in his family wants them).  He gave them to me.  Classics, Stan the Man (yes, with black, electrical tape, Mick Steiner) and Al Kaline Louisville Slugger wood bats.  MLB greats from my childhood.  So something positive came out of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s newspaper had two sections (see pics).  There is no Sport Section, but it is a section inside a section (starting on page B3).  There is no Scoreboard page!  There are no scores to report!  It is just a bunch of reflections, for example, Bradley’s very good BB team, who had their dancing shoes taken off when the Big Dance was cancelled.

I’m thankful I have Marilyn.  (Marilyn, BTW, got up at 5 am this morning to work at the Illinois Primary Election, so I’m reading the newspaper alone today).

OK, I need to wrap this up. I need to write emails to my students and get ready for the Communications Team meeting at Wesley Church (it will be done remotely) tomorrow.

I’ll end with some concluding reflections.

  • We were unprepared for this emergency.  I’m not sure that would could have been.
  • This rates up there with September 11, in my lifetime, in terms of the idea of We Live In a Different World Now.  I think the long-term impact on the economy may be greater than the impact of September 11.
  • Our world has come to a screeching halt.  We probably won’t be able to go on the mission trip, which is generally the best week of the year for me.
  • For the last 6 days our heads have been spinning trying to figure this out.  It is a struggle because we like to solve problems and plan for the future, but we can’t really plan for the future.
  • We are getting better understanding what is fundamentally important and foundational (which is typical of emergencies).  Faith, family, and the 2 great commandments come to mind.
  • The church is needed more than ever.  We need to work together more than ever.  God is on the throne and Jesus is Lord.
  • At some point, perhaps in another week or so, when our heads aren’t spinning so much, we can start creating new models for doing things. Necessity is the mother of invention. For example, could we have a men’s Bible study using Google Hangouts Meet?

(I’ll close with the disclaimer I’ve mentioned already.  This is a reflection and not a factual news report. The examples a mathematician gives are frequently abstract, with no claim that they are the best, or only, examples.)

May you experience Grace in Pilgrimage.

Jim Olsen, March 17, 2020