Posted March 27, 2020 by Mark Perna
Due to the coronavirus health crisis, stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders are now in effect in many parts of the country—with the result that we’re all spending a lot more time in the four walls of our own homes. Working from home is the new norm, and will likely continue for many people even after the pandemic is over.
To a society accustomed to the freedom to go wherever we want, whenever we want, these restrictions can be chafing. Do you feel like a prisoner yet?
Maybe we could all use a fresh perspective.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Anne Frank, who hid with seven other people in a small space for over two years during the Holocaust. The diary she left behind shows us the extraordinary things that people can endure and accomplish when life is on the line.
Though Anne Frank’s story is among the most well-known of the Holocaust, it is not unique. Last summer when I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., I listened, riveted, to a man who also experienced the isolation, confinement, and terror of living in hiding.
For a year and a half, he and his sister lived in a tiny closet to escape the Germans. The danger was very real; if someone heard them, they could be discovered, captured, and killed. Every day inched slowly by, heavy with the fear that their lives could be cut short at any moment, for any reason, and with any mistake.
For a year and a half, they clung to that tiny closet where the slightest sound or routine search could have given them away. For a year and a half, those confining four walls were everything—their life preserver in a world spinning out of control and their hope that someday it might get better. They did what was necessary to survive and save each other during an impossible set of circumstances.
To listen to this man’s story made me deeply grateful for my challenges and opportunities.
Like the rest of the world, my life and schedule have been turned upside down by the coronavirus crisis. We are being asked to confine ourselves at home to keep ourselves and others safe. Everything is disrupted, everything is uncertain. But stories of what people are capable of during crisis, like Anne Frank and the man I spoke with at the museum, help me put this experience into perspective.
I am not confined to a tiny closet, living in fear that the slightest noise could lead to my death. When I think of what this man and many others experienced, I realize how light my restrictions really are. I can stay home, use appropriate distancing, protect those within my sphere of influence, and do it all with a gracious and grateful heart. Perspective is everything!