Each day throughout the month of March, as Arlo and I made our early morning turn around Lakeside Park, we stopped to look at the digital sign located in front of the elementary school.
Even after classes were cancelled for the rest of the year because of the coronavirus the sign continued to flash information about the Kindergarten Roundup, Spring Break and the March word of the month: PERSEVERANCE.
An appropriate word for these times of COVID-19 lost jobs, uncertainty, seclusion and death. I imagine that’s why school officials left it up as we entered April.
Other words that come to mind are tenacity, determination, doggedness and resolve.
“Heavens to Mergatroyd!” as the 1960s cartoon character, Snagglepuss might exclaim, “we’re gonna’ need lots of determination to get through this. Willpower, even.”
Not to mention considerable flexibility and creative problem solving ability.
The Harden City Kid. aka Bobby Winters, wrote about this in his column last week, offering that because of COVID-19, we’re all being forced into rewiring our brains.
More specifically, he talked about having to learn new ways to use existing computer technology as well as accept that the world has irrevocably changed. What’s more, he offered that, at varying levels, we all have to adapt and learn to do some of the things we’ve been putting off … or we will be left behind.
As my dear, departed friend, Millo Farneti, might say in response to Bobby’s observations, “Tutto e’ vero.” (All true).
In my case, I’ve been learning how to host 12-Step Zoom video meetings and participate in online music and poetry readings as well as develop audio-only conference calls.
Since Linda is learning to do the same things for her home-based teaching duties, we’ve been having fun adapting together — connecting to one another from desktop to laptop at other locations in our house, while discovering the best ways to manage stagecraft, sound and lighting quality.
Being a writer, I’m not too much affected by social distancing, as my craft has always required spending a lot of time alone. I do miss live, in-person group singing, though – at our Thursday morning Medicaloges Hootenanny and in the Sacred Heart Skybox on Sundays. (Toward that end, I’m planning on a little evening six-feet-apart neighborhood sing-a-long from my front porch.)
As I’ve also been feeling the need for a worship service, I decided to connect to a live stream of Kansas City’s Unity Temple Plaza service last Sunday and got a wonderful surprise, especially in the music.
“Bridge over Troubled Water” played on violin set the tone for the entire ceremony. Then came a welcome by Rev. Duke Tufty followed by a deep blues harmonica and humming version of “I’m Going over Jordan” by Wayne Kirkland. It brought me to tears.
The music throughout the service was mostly jazz and blues, with vocalist Millie Edwards being joined by saxophonist Jim Mayer and harmonica player Kirkland on “Amazing Grace,” “We Shall Overcome,” and “Stand By Me.” Halfway through, Rev. Tufty led deep, meditative breathing and contemplative prayer accompanied by flutist Ron McCorkle.
Rev. Sandra Campbell delivered an upbeat homily (from her home) titled “God’s got this” affirming that, “Faith can move mountains. Doubt can create them.” (The service is archived on their site. To view it, go to Unity Templ’s website and click on 3/29/20.)
Getting back to Snagglepuss, Baby Boomers will recall that he was a pink cougar who talked like Bert Lahr did as the Cowardly Lion in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Besides the catchphrase “Heavens to Mergatroyd!” he used stage direction and dashed off with the exclamation, “Exit, stage left!” (or "right," as the case may be, or "up" or "down" even).
He frequently added the word "even" for emphasis at the ends of sentences: ("Somebody’s hurt! In dire pain, even!” "On account of I must be a little rusty. Stale, even").
Snagglepuss lived in a cavern, which he was constantly trying make more habitable for himself. Most all of us can identify with him on that one. But, in his case, no matter what he did, he always ended up back where he started — or worse off than he was before.
It’s obvious, as seen in the compassionate behavior of common people across the world, that we’re determined that won’t happen, not only in our homes, but also our neighborhoods and cities.
To do that we’re going to need not only all the perseverance we can muster, but also all the patience, charity and kindness. All the love, even.
Exit, stage left.
— J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and celebrant. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Training in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 620-231-0499, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 401 W. Euclid, Pittsburg, KS 66762