I met with someone in person the other day! I know that normally wouldn’t earn an exclamation point but after a year of Zoom, Skype, and other video formats, it was so refreshing to actually meet this person live and “in person.” Have you had many of those moments yet? My wife’s mom and dad, both octogenarians, have had both of their shots and my mother-in-law’s celebration was to invite all the kids, spouses and grandkids to their place for dinner. Her next adventure is a road trip. She has been aching to get out and about again.

I know she is not alone. Have you noticed the increase in traffic … both in the stores and on the roads? I can’t even do a simple search online without some travel, cruise or airline company offering me some great deal to get away. I have even taken the bait and planned a vacation in August for my family to a place not even open yet to travel. We Americans, after a long imposed COVID slumber, are ready to get back out and going again. For all those places that have been decimated by the lack of tourist dollars, and still survived, the harvest is just ahead. As lovely as that sounds, we do need to be mindful of a couple of things.

First, C19 has not disappeared and even if you are vaccinated, it is not 100% that you won’t get it. I know of one saint that got it after being vaccinated (thankfully not severe). So, we need to continue a certain amount of vigilance in protecting one another wherever we are. One of the positives of our diligence in hand hygiene and masks is the flu season was a wash. I even had a doctor say when asked by a patient about getting the flu shot last month, “don’t bother at this point.”

Second, we need to be mindful of all the people that did not come through this pandemic unscathed. Domestic violence is up. Mental health professionals are being taxed with the number of clients who have relapsed or others in need of first-time visits. Medical doctors are dealing with their patients having weight gain, blood pressure and other stress-related issues increase. I heard another doctor say a couple of weeks ago as they walked into their patient’s examining room, “good job. You only gained one pound (they have never said that to me).” Then there are those who lost employment, lost family members, lost their savings … they are lost. Drug and alcohol usage have increased leading to the exacerbation of some of the issues mentioned above. These folks cannot travel to escape and are finding escape in other ways.

So, what as a community can we do? The first thing is to pray for one another and not prey upon one another. This is a time, as weary as we might be, to show compassion and grace to our fellow human beings. Don’t take offense so easily. Offer forgiveness more readily. Show appreciation more freely. And, if you see someone in need, offer your help. There is a scripture that comes to mind. It is Jesus talking about the judgment of the nations and he says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it (fed, clothed, visited, showed hospitality) to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:31-40). So, let’s practice radical hospitality and extravagant generosity with each other and when we do, we may find our great escape from our stress is closer than we thought.

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