SOCIALLY DISTANCED

Both men lived in the same apartment building, one on the ground floor and the other, two flights up. They would see each other in passing, nodding ‘hello’ or muttering the occasional “How ya doing?” They were approximately the same age and had seen each other often but a friendship never developed.

Then the corona virus hit and everything changed.

They happened upon each other in a nearby park, masked up, walking their dogs. One had a golden retriever, the other a chocolate lab. They struck up a socially distanced conversation, at first talking about their dogs then, of course, the craziness of COVID.

They were both unemployed computer engineers, laid off because of company closures. Each one contemplated moving back in with their parents but that was impossible; neither one came from accepting or understanding homes.

They started biking and jogging together, often running the six miles that made up the full loop around Central Park. As they talked they discovered they had much in common: their nonexistent love lives, their passion for chess, a fascination with micro-brewing and their dream of working from home as computer app designers. And how gut-wrenching it was coming out as gay.

The next step was so natural: moving in together. They could share one apartment and save money, work on ideas for app design programs, dabble in a little home-made beer and totally, passionately, fiercely fall in love.

A new year, a new start. Love in the time of corona.

NAR © 2021

Reposted for  http://fivedotoh.com/2022/12/16/fowc-with-fandango-neither/

THE PROMISE

Say, God! We your children, the citizens of the world, the people you created in your own image – Father, we have some questions for you. 

Did you create this deadly, horrendous virus or did you give man the ability to cultivate it in a laboratory? Did you decide one day that you’ve had enough of this amoral world and it was time to start anew or perhaps not restart at all? 

Or is it the handiwork of the devil? After all, how many times did he tempt your beloved Son during his 40 days in the desert? Turning stones into bread to relieve Jesus’ hunger while he fasted; daring Jesus to throw himself off a mountain by offering him dominion over all earthly kingdoms; demanding Jesus kneel before him, again for all the empires of the world. The temptations of hedonism, egoism and materialism – not unlike the world of 2020. 

So what is this hideous evil we are facing now – this demon bug which does not discriminate between those people who are right and good and just or the ones who are evil and sadistic and selfish? It doesn’t care if the victim is a person of power and influence or a homeless man huddled in a cardboard box under a bridge. 

Just recently people were going about their everyday lives – shopping in malls, attending concerts, catching a hockey game, dining out, getting married, hopping a plane to Rome. Kids went to school. People went to work. We went to church – your house where we gathered with our brothers and sisters, clasping hands in a sign of peace. Now your holy houses are closed. 

Grandparents were welcoming their newborn grandchildren only to be snatched from their lives. Kids were gleeful to be home from school until they began missing their friends. They couldn’t have play dates or go to Cub Scouts or music lessons or the toy store. Jobs were lost, restaurants shut down, playgrounds deserted with only empty swings swaying in the wind. 

Wearing rubber gloves while shopping became necessary, scared and wary eyes visible above our ubiquitous masks. People stowed bread and milk and eggs in their shopping bags and hoarded sanitizers and toilet paper. Some became greedy, leaving little on the shelves for others. 

How many of your children will die? How many doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters and truckers put their lives on the line without a second thought, most unable to go home at night to their families? The elderly – confused, frightened and lonely in nursing homes – separated from their families because visits are forbidden. The women in the throes of childbirth afraid to go to the hospital, perhaps not even allowed to go to the hospital. 

We have new words and phrases in our vocabulary – self-isolation, flatten the curve, shelter in place, social-distancing. Yet there are comforting and familiar words such as hope, peace, love, family, faith and health. Those are the words we cling to every day. Those are the words that are stronger than anxiety, depression, helplessness, solitude and fear. 

Eons ago you destroyed the earth by water. Only eight righteous people and every kind of animal were spared. You made this promise: “Never again will I curse the earth; neither will I again smite every thing living, as I have done”.       

No, Father! We your children refuse to believe that you have abandoned us. We know you are a loving and compassionate God. You will end this vile curse, freeing us to once again walk arm in arm, our faces basking in the glow of your never-ending love. 

NAR © 2020