Most weekends, I head over to my granddaughter Eleanor’s house loaded down like Mary Poppins with books, games, Calico Critters and all of their accessories. The coronavirus quarantine wasn’t going to interrupt our routine.
So we live-streamed “Nini’s Story Time” on our iPads on Saturday, with three of the Calico Critters standing in as “teachers.” The most popular (and appropriate) book was Don’t Be Scared from 1964. It deals not with disease but with things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, including “a fierce and long cucumber” that interrupts your slumber and an “antelope with your piece of soap” in the bathtub. The constant refrain: “Don’t be scared!”
The next day, my Catholic church in Ann Arbor live-streamed Mass for the fourth Sunday in Lent, a traditional time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
“This is the first live-streamed Mass I’ve ever done,” said Father James Gartland, S.J., our pastor. “It’s a little surreal (but) in this crazy time, we are all brought to our knees in prayer.”
He added: “Our fasting this Lent is about the hunger to be together again. Let us be grateful for our faith.”
Live-streaming now extends to my Pilates community, which is so tightly knit that it has a spinoff book club, complete with personalized items like a wine carafe used during meetings. Determined to keep us healthy and together, our instructor Chris has set up remote classes on Zoom. With the gallery view, we can all see and talk to each other as we spend an hour exercising in our homes.
Chris reminded us that Joseph Pilates began his exercise regimen during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, when he was a hospital orderly at a POW camp on the Isle of Man. He taught his exercises to 8,000 internees and not a single one died from influenza. An inspiring tale meant to keep us going.
I don’t even consider these “virtual” connections any more. They are simply the new way to keep us linked to family, faith and friends.