Dear friends,

Two weeks ago today I called 911 because it was clear that Joe was having health problems beyond his hurt back. Neither of us had any clue that he had Covid pneumonia or that weeks later he would still be in the hospital with weeks to go before he’s home. Covid Hell, as I think of it, is a strange place to be. We measure progress in increments, and have learned that it is not a straight line. Improvements are followed by setbacks, then slowly things start to get better again. We alternate between encouragement and discouragement, hope and despair. Depression, boredom, and anger are all part of the mix, too, as is gratitude for the care and concern we have received from so many.

One of the constants of the last two weeks has been the noise of the oxygen machine. It is the soundtrack of our lives now — a continuous loud swooshing right above Joe’s head. As I’ve listened to that sound and watched the rise and fall of Joe’s breath the last two weeks I am reminded of the importance of breath and spirit in our faith.

In Hebrew the word ruach means wind, breath, and spirit. It first appears in the very first verses of Genesis. “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Other translations say a “wind from God swept over the waters.”

Ruach as breath appears a chapter later when, in the second creation account, God forms the first human from the dust of the ground “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” It is God’s ruach that breathes life into the Valley of Dry Bones in the Book of Ezekiel, animating what once looked hopelessly dead.

In my more fanciful moments, I imagine that the oxygen machine is filled with God’s ruach, each swoosh sending divine breath into Joe’s lungs, slowly breathing him back to wholeness and health. What once was an annoying noise becomes a comfort, a reminder of God’s presence even in Covid Hell.

We feel your presence, too, of course. We are grateful for your prayers, and your many messages, bringing light and comfort to us both in the midst of the hell of Covid.

With love,

Tricia and Joe

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