By Lisa Marie Burwell
We interrupt our regularly scheduled lives . . .
I didn’t see it coming. I thought the distant rumblings about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, in early January were going to remain just that—distant. But upon learning of the onset in Seattle, Washington, in late January, my attention was piqued. One of my brothers-in-law and his family live there. I kept a watchful eye on the news that week to monitor the situation, making calls and sending texts to the family to see how they were doing. They were doing well, and, at that time, everything was still business as usual. That was somewhat reassuring as I had a short jaunt to NYC planned for early February to meet my two sisters, whom I hadn’t seen in a while. But a still, small voice inside me alerted me to the possible danger of exposure to the virus. My sisters and I had already canceled several reunions in the previous six months, and I was determined not to cancel again. Strangely, I felt that if I didn’t make the trip, it could be a long time before we’d be able to get together. So I went, and we had a great time with much-needed and overdue bonding. I made it back home safe and sound, not realizing that the Big Apple would soon be under lockdown due to a worldwide pandemic.
The deadly progression of the hard-to-contain virus was gaining traction in Italy and Iran. I have seen our world stricken with some pretty severe viral scares in my lifetime, but it was hard not to notice the extreme seriousness of this outbreak. The numbers of deaths were escalating, and the worry on the faces of doctors and politicians was undeniable. Still, we marched on—no need for concern. We always figure these things out just in time. Right? Not this time. This menacing and pernicious virus is relentless. COVID-19 invaded our shores, and it hasn’t let up. We’ve read in history books about pandemics like the bubonic plague—which has had at least three world campaigns—the 1918 Spanish flu, and smallpox, to name a few. But it’s difficult to fathom that, with our current knowledge base of epidemiology and history, this could be happening.
So now, the world has hit the pause button. With dread and confusion about how this could be happening, most of those with the ability to do so are now working remotely, shuttered inside their homes. I find it ironic as I have had a running joke with God that all I needed was for the world to stop for a little while so that I could get caught up. But there is something very sobering about a crisis that requires the attention and participation of literally every person around the world.
We are all in this together, but our first responders carry the heaviest responsibilities. Many politicians have boldly stepped up with a determined resolve to do their part in winning this war. Thank you for your tireless efforts and for revealing strength and character as true leaders. Things are not going perfectly, but most people are doing their best. Meanwhile, the medical community has become the frontline cavalry in this contagion battle. I’ve never been more impressed with our medical “soldiers,” those who are fighting to save lives while putting their own at risk. We all need to give a huge thank-you to all the doctors, physician assistants, nurses, orderlies, and other support staff. You are our heroes.
Now that we find ourselves with time to do things at home and to immerse ourselves in selfish distractions, it’s oddly appropriate that this should be VIE’s annual entertainment issue. Music is a great healer and unifier, as is evidenced by the Italians who, while under a shutter-in-place decree, have been joining together and singing in beautiful harmony from their apartment balconies.
The talented entertainers featured within these pages are amazing. And since these gifted musicians are unable to perform publicly during this coronavirus pandemic, I hope you are moved to support them by purchasing their music. I am so excited that the multitalented Leslie Odom, Jr. graces our cover. Please read his inspirational story of life’s lessons in “Stronger Magic—Reaching the Impossible Dream.”
I believe good will come from this. I believe that God is still in control and will save humanity. We need to pray for help and for God to heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14). Now that He has our attention, I believe that we need to love one another better than we did before. I’m praying more. I’m loving better.
Maybe it’s just me, but since the world stopped, I seem to hear the birds sing like never before.
— V —