It was both sweet and perhaps misguided. I’ve not written much about the coronavirus because I’ve really had nothing to say on the pandemic. Also I’m squeamish. Being a remote worker I spend most of my time alone anyway. So when the knock came to my door, I wasn’t sure I should answer. Afraid that some vital bit of information was to be conveyed, I gave in. Two young ladies stood there and at first I thought they were selling Girl Scout cookies, but one of them had some copies of The Watchtower in a folder and I knew that the Jehovah’s Witnesses had come calling. I didn’t invite them in. I don’t mean to be inhospitable, but those who go around knocking on doors might have been exposed to who knows what. They were here, the older one said, to give good news.
Although she didn’t mention the coronavirus directly, she said people were feeling anxious. But God—our creator—had promised everything would work out. She read me Revelation 21.4, about God wiping every tear from our eyes, from an iPad. I’ve read that verse many times on my own, and, tainted with decades of specialist knowledge, knew a good deal about the context in which it was written. The Witnesses didn’t stay long. As they walked away I couldn’t help but think how this current scare has been affecting us all. We are afraid. I don’t need any advice when it comes to social distancing (I am an introvert, after all), but there’s a kind of hopelessness afoot. I don’t read the papers but every headline is about the virus. The world seems awfully quiet.
This will go down in history, I suspect, as a strange episode. I feel guilty for conducting normal business, as if there is anything I could do to prevent the disease beyond isolating myself even further. It’s perhaps the waiting. Those of us in circumstances where joy is more fleeting than a visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses often invest huge amounts of time waiting for things to get better. The news, for example, that a piece has been accepted for publication. Or that a long wished for promotion has come. Or that somebody has actually read your book. Such news is rare indeed and outside a disease rages out of control. What else beyond missionary zeal would send you to strangers’ doors at such a time as this? They didn’t even leave any tracts.