Friday, August 28, 2020


This is the twenty-eighth in a series of periodic reflections on the "ordinary things" that many people do on a regular basis without much thought. During this pandemic, I am developing a need to "rage, rage" against haste and laziness and replace it with care and attention. My hope is to become personally more intentional about doing ordinary things with care and focused attention, while inspiring others to maybe do the same.


            "We walk by faith, not by sight."         

       II Corinthians 6:7 

Some of my favorite TV shows are the ones featuring people living in the backwoods of Alaska: Life Below Zero, Mountain Men, Alaska the Last Frontier, The Last Alaskans, 100 Days Wild, Alaskan Bush People and Yukon Men. One of the regular hazards, other than being attacked by bears, is falling through thin ice when trying to cross a river. Very often they refer to children, neighbors, spouses and friends who have fallen through the ice only to be swept to their deaths in a flash!

"Walking on thin ice," "treading on thin ice" or "skating on thin ice" are familiar expressions we use to refer to the various precarious situations in which we find ourselves. It occurred to me the other day how "on target" those expressions are when I think about how I feel almost every day of this pandemic - especially during quiet reflective moments.  They express that tenuous feeling that many of us have about the possibility of being swept to our deaths before we know it! 

"Walking on thin ice" can refer to two distinct things. It can refer to the foolhardiness of taking the risk of walking out on thin ice as a silly dare from a bunch of drunken teenagers! It can, however, refer to the courage of taking the risk of walking out on thin ice as a way to get food or medical assistance to a family close to starvation or death from a stroke. 

We see both types of "walking on thin ice" being acted out during this pandemic. We see the foolhardiness of a bunch of young adults gathered, cheek to cheek, in a bar without a thought to social distancing or wearing a mask. We see the courage of health care workers courageously entering hospitals and nursing homes to care for those who have contracted the COVID-19 disease. Both are "walking on thin ice," but for two distinctly different reasons. One group is selfishly and foolishly "tempting fate" and the other group is heroically and generously "laying down their lives" in service to their fellow men and women. 

Lastly, there are those of us who have a choice! We can "walk on thin ice" by being selfish and foolhardy, in a fog of denial, and put ourselves and others in jeopardy. On the other hand, we can "walk on thin ice" by embracing a less than exciting life by staying out of crowds, by wearing masks and by sanitizing our hands in an effort to slow the spread of this disease. There is a difference between "foolhardy" and "courageous." 

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