COVID Nostalgia

H2O Staff Reminiscing about the COVID-19 Shutdown during Family Time

This week marks the four-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shut-down in Northeast Ohio. If one might imagine the COVID-19 Pandemic as a gangly youth, fresh out of middle school and ready to start high school — that young person would be graduating high school right now. If one were to think of the COVID-19 shut-down as the World Cup, or the Summer Olympics, four years ago — it would finally be time for the next one. It’s weird how this time span feels both short and long.

Our H2O Kent staff team took some time today to think back to that fateful week, four years ago. Some of our memories were surprisingly-fond. Some of our memories were kind of sad. But in everything, we felt a level of gratitude for how God brought us through it all. Here’s a random sampling of memories that were shared during our time together:

H2O Staff Prayer at the Start of the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • We all remember how watching the news on television or listening to the news on radio became an obsession during those early weeks of the COVID-19 shut-down.
  • There was a steep learning curve with masks, as a public health measure. Some of our first attempts to follow the guidelines were trips to the grocery store wearing bandanas or scarfs over our noses and mouths. And it all felt very weird and ominous.
  • We hated wiping down groceries when that seemed to be the prevailing wisdom of public health officials (though it all seems very silly now).
  • We remember the way that the main campus of Kent State University returned to its natural roots, with all of the groundskeeping and maintenance workers went home for the shut-down. The grass and weeds grew long and shaggy. Herds of deer roamed the heart of campus. It all felt very dystopian and apocalyptic.
  • We remember the awkwardness of using Ticket Tailor / Tazotix to have students register their attendance at H2O Church events, for the purposes of contact tracing (though we never actually had to do any contact tracing).
H2O Mid-Summer Gathering in the Summer of COVID-19
  • We fondly remember a church in town that decided to support the work of our ministry to Kent State University students — and all of its open-air meetings — by providing a seemingly-endless supply of firewood, available for pick-up at an old building on South Water Street. We also remember how our clothes smelled like smoke pretty frequently back in those days.
  • We remember the mural of a dark-skinned Jesus painted on the cinder-block wall of the church that allowed us to use its space in the Spring of 2021.
  • We remember the weirdest and worst Kent State University Blastoff experience, in August of 2020. There were almost no students who took the University up on its invitation to try a “Virtual Blastoff” (via Zoom). And of the very few who did join us in our H2O discussion room, I remembered one interaction with a single student who was joining from his laptop computer at home, in his room, wearing a mask, with his microphone on mute the whole time! It was painful! But we did get one student to join our church because of that “Virtual Blastoff,” and she has been a dynamic member of our community for the last four years.

I could go on and on and on. But suffice to say: it was a wild ride, and it’s really kind of amazing that we made it through in any way, shape, or form. What do you remember from the COVID-19 shut-down in the 11th week of 2020? I’d seriously be delighted to get more reflections in the comment section below.

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