In these past few weeks, we’ve seen things change, quickly and dramaticallyWe’ve heard the prophets of doom tell us to “prepare,” almost always by buying whatever book, video or trinket they’re selling. 

Change is constant and those who accept that know being prepared means being able to see a new reality and adapt behavior and thinking to it.  Preparedness means being ready to see that the old ways of reacting will not be helpful.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is new. It has given us new evidence of the eternal reality that evil lurks among us and must be confronted and defeated day-by-day. While most of us struggled to adapt to the empty shelves, the concept of “social distancing,” and the economic devastation of this pandemic, others went a different direction.  Those who emptied the shelves and filled their garages with toilet paper, surgical masks, hand sanitizer, and pasta sought to create and profit from shortages and misery.    

Meanwhile, Christians and Jews observed their holiest days of the year. Lent and Easter, for Christians, is a time of self-assessment and acknowledgement of the sin and evil that surrounds us and seeks to infect our lives. Only by doing so can we “prepare” to do the hard work of becoming better people, letting go of our own needs to attend to the physical and spiritual needs of others and on the things, small and substantial, that we can do for others. Just as important is recognizing and being grateful for all the things, small and substantial, that others have done for us. 

On a personal level, this Lent and Easter season has been unique among those past and future. First, there were a series of tests and consultations with doctors.  To turn that saga into a synopsis, let it be said that the diagnosis was not good, but the upside percentages were. Curiously, the mind tends to look past the recovery percentages to the smaller possibility that treatments may fail. The same is, of course, true of COVID-19. 

Then, all that became especially “real” when I was scheduled for treatment at Maine Medical Center during the week of peak infection. The plan was to stay in Portland on Monday, be in the hospital Tuesday and Wednesday, stay overnight again and head home on Thursday morning. Then the governor closed all hotels and my “reality” became a 3 a.m. drive and pre-dawn check-in on Tuesday morning.  

That all is now in the past. 

What will forever accompany me is not the inconvenience or the discomfort, but the extraordinary kindness of all those who helped me, performed my procedures, and gave so generously of their skills and good humor for the two days I was in Portland.

Maine is indeed fortunate to have a facility like Maine Med. It may not be the largest or the most famous of hospitals, but it is surely unsurpassed for the quality of the facilities it does have, the care it does provide and, most of all, the skill and attentiveness of its nursing staff. 

The names are too many to remember, despite them being written on the whiteboard, but even from behind the masks and face shields the smiling eyes and kind words did more than the pills and infusions to keep me from thinking of “downside numbers.” I do hope and pray the staff and management of the fifth floor, Bean Building, will stay well and help many others pursuing their “upside” percentages. I hope they get to see this and know how very, very much their efforts are admired and appreciated. 

Our world has been infected with evil for as long as we’ve had free will. The downside is hideous, but the upside is that the fundamental good in human beings is overwhelmingly more prevalent and more powerful. 

It’s never too late to reject and renounce evil, to see the goodness in others, and to choose goodness for ourselves. 

Another View is a weekly column written collaboratively by Dale Landrith of Camden, Ken Frederic of Bristol, Paul Ackerman of Martinsville, Jan Dolcater of Rockport and Ralph “Doc” Wallace of Rockport.

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