By Dorothy Knight Burchett
What is it about a crisis that makes people run to the stores to buy toilet paper? Does the thought of running out scare the poop out of them? Did they never think of keeping a 12-pack on hand just in case there’s a shortage? Quite a few years ago, a friend’s husband was getting reduced work hours. My friend ran right out and got a job. It seemed to me she wanted to be prepared, rather than panic when his job was finally cut. I think that would probably apply to anything. Why panic when you can be prepared? The few times I have been in the stores in the last few weeks, I have seen shortages and outages of: hand sanitizer, ice cream, paper towels and meat. On March 16 I stood in line at the Wine and Spirits store for 40 minutes to purchase a double-shot of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey so I could make Irish coffee the next day. There were two long lines of people behind the cashier counter. People were holding armfuls and baskets of liter and gallon bottles of various wines and liquors. Apparently, they wanted to be prepared for a long siege. Well, I haven’t exactly stopped watching the news, but I have cut back considerably. Watching the updates every day of how many people have got the virus in various locations and how many have died can cause depression, paranoia and anxiety. I know I’m supposed to stay home and wash my hands a lot. That’s all I need to know. In the meantime, churches and governments and individuals—in society and on TV—are trying to bring calm and humor to the situation. On the marquee at Wayside Emanuel Church on Mitchell Road, the message reads: : “Don’t panic. God is with us.” The message at Church of the Good Shepherd in West Middlesex is—“Wash your hands often. —Pontus Pilate.” Churches are adapting to the change in society. They are broadcasting on TV and the Internet. In fact, my pastor gave a stimulating quote in her homily yesterday by a Rabbi named Yosef Kanefsky: “Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we make. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and kindness. Every inch that we place between ourselves and others must become a thought as to how we might be able to help others.” Aren’t we fortunate that we live in a time when social distancing doesn’t have to keep us apart? In the meantime, the rain still falls; the sun still shines; the grass still grows and the flowers still bloom. A woman called in to a talk show I was listening to a couple of weeks ago. She said, “When it’s time to go, it’s time to go and toilet paper isn’t going to save you.” (I don’t think she was talking about the bathroom.) That pretty well sums it up.