It's May 5, 2020, about 8 weeks into coronavirus reality, and I've postponed grocery shopping as long as I can. I grab the respirator we had lying around the garage for dusty projects, snap on safety goggles over my glasses, and pull on rubber gloves. I'm ready for the grocery store! I snap a selfie in the produce aisle at Stauffer's of Kissel Hill in Rohrerstown, PA. Viewing the photo from today's vantage point, what stands out to me most is that we still know comparatively little about SARS-COV2. We're regularly learning of variants emerging. Instead of looking outdated, this level of personal protective equipment is just one step away from the daily masking and handwashing and avoiding crowds that have been a regular part of life for about a year now. I also think about the web of Lancaster, PA Mennonite community. Stauffer's is a regional grocery chain that's duking it out with Whole Foods and Wegman's and appearing to remain buoyant. Roy and Florence Stauffer started the business as a produce stand in Kissel Hill, near Lititz, PA, circa 1930s. I've included a few photos from a history display in the Rohrerstown store. In 2003 I interviewed Rhoda Stauffer Oberholtzer, Florence and Roy's daughter, for my master's thesis research. She talked about growing up alongside the family business, and one of her comments stuck with me. She said something very close to: "We all worked together. We learned you work because there's work to do, not because you want to or because it's fun."
I am a hospital staff chaplain. Last Monday (12/7) we had a very difficult day when four patients on the ICU with Covid-19 were removed from their ventilators and died minutes later. Just a couple family members of each patient were allowed to come see their loved one (per hospital protocol) before they were removed from the vents. This was the worse day yet for our nurses and other colleagues on the ICU since the pandemic started. This lament was the result of one: an assignment for a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education that I am currently taking in which I read it to the class on Thursday and they loved it. And two: the deaths on the ICU that Monday and the experience I had in a local store the next. And I suppose a response so far to the pandemic through my eyes as a hospital chaplain who is trying to serve.