Four weeks ago I wrote in this space about looking forward to Fulton Oysterfest. Life has changed a bit since then.

If one recalls, we experienced the Great American Eclipse the week before Hurricane Harvey changed most of our lives.

COVID-19 approached us at a much slower rate than Harvey, but the impact of both is very real, and long term.

Right off the bat, let me give you a little bit of perspective. If you feel President Trump’s directive to stay at home through the end of this month (except for necessary forays into the wilderness) is a long time, just think, it’s no longer than the time that has passed since Oysterfest.

Those in the know (not those who think they know and are more than happy to share their vast opinions on Facebook) say the bad experiences from the virus are still ahead of us, but the worst should be in our rearview mirror around Easter.

I think that would be apropos. If one doesn’t understand that, I suggest taking some of his or her downtime to brush up on the Easter (Resurrection) story (hint – New Testament). I’d also suggest not reading anything in Revelations (the last book in the Bible) right now!

Most of you experienced Harvey, and now this invisible threat.

I’ve heard it said more than once, “I’d rather go through Harvey than this.”

I suspect those who think that way probably escaped Harvey’s wrath better than others, or enough time has passed they simply don’t feel the pain as much as they did in the weeks and months that followed the storm.

Through my glasses, there are some big differences between the two major events that have jarred us all.

When we walked outside each morning after Harvey, we literally saw what we were up against. With this virus, we walk outside into a beautiful day and don’t think about the virus until something reminds us of another new normal to which we must adjust (e.g. – hear a news report, etc.).

Harvey, or any other similar natural disaster, affects a small region, when compared to the whole world.

This Coronavirus has affected almost the entire globe.

Although I appreciate the government aide our communities received in Harvey’s wake, I often wonder how long the federal government can continue shoveling billions of dollars into areas devastated by natural disasters.

Then this virus hits and a triple trillion in aid is pulled out of thin air (with a little political pork to fund pet projects).

I aced my accounting classes in college, and I loved my statistics courses, but I can’t fathom how this is all going to work out economically.

There are going to be thousands of businesses that fail, regardless of the amount of aid thrown at the multitude of problems this invisible enemy has provided. It will also claim many lives, directly and indirectly.

There’s one thing that is very similar between Harvey and this pandemic – it has brought out the best and worst in humanity.

One thing that’s definitely different is after Harvey is there was no hoarding of toilet paper.

I’m certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, whoever has hundreds of rolls of toilet paper stashed away isn’t going to be better off in the end (pun intended).

On a recent morning, after a long night at the office, I posted something on Facebook when I was in a pretty reflective mood. I felt like I did during the two weeks after Harvey when were without electricity, water, and sewer.

I close this week with what I posted on Facebook:

During uncertain times in our lives it’s good to get out of ourselves, and actually understand how little we control.

Living in Rockport has given me two experiences in less than 30 months that drive that point home - Hurricane Harvey, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. In every life experience, lessons are learned.

Everyone either has, or is about to have a little extra time on their hands and is trying to fill some of that time with worthwhile activities. I challenge myself, and everyone who reads this, to look back on their lives … go ahead, go back as close to the actual crib as you can. You will be amazed when you come to the realization that everything that has happened in your life did not happen in a vacuum, with results based only on your own abilities and decisions made.

For many years I have started my day backing out of my driveway, holding a cross in my hand, and saying, “God, Your will be done.”  If I know I’m going to have a particularly challenging day, that’s followed by the Serenity Prayer. It makes a huge difference for me because it makes me get out of self (even though I too often get off track by noon!).

I mentioned we all probably have some extra time right now, with schedules upended and uncertainties about the future - short and long term. I invite you to read the long version of the Serenity Prayer (below) each day during these trying times. Who knows, it might become a regular practice once the pandemic threat passes. Just think of what a wonderful world it would be (yes, I stole that phrase) if we all came out the other side as better versions of ourselves.

Take care of yourself, as well as your neighbor... we aren’t in charge.

SERENITY PRAYER

(Long version)

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things, which should be changed,

And the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it.

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Until next week, have a good week, and keep the faith.

Mike Probst can be reached at publisher@rockportpilot.com.

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