United in Isolation
By: Tracy Liang
April 7, 2020
Four weeks ago, the new coronavirus was a distant concept that seemingly had no effect on the usual operation of the clinic. Three weeks ago, patients began cancelling appointments, and those who came were screened three times pre-admittance. Students, staff and faculty began asking for higher level masks in addition to rationing existing glove supplies. Then, the surrounding dental school clinics, including my own, cancelled all non-emergent appointments, deferring elective treatment. Only select faculty remained to see patients on an exclusively pain-related emergency basis. As the now familiar story goes, students were instructed to move off the campus, if possible. My classmates and I began “distance learning” through web conferences and over the phone.
All the while, thousands of fourth year dental students (and likely, graduating medical residents) across the nation were unsure whether we would graduate on time or when licensure exams could eventually be rescheduled. Unsurprisingly, commencement became a virtual affair.
During this time of many firsts, my CMDA family, now no longer on campus, learned to adapt. Unable to book rooms for our weekly Bible studies, we moved the meetings to the dorms. When social distancing became imperative, we shifted to Google video chat. Initially, I wondered how we could carry on with the same depth and intimacy of fellowship.
Yet, from week to week, I noticed that rather than being disheartened, our group proved more hopeful, active and responsive than before. Students from whom I rarely heard sent helpful information on COVID-19, and they also offered articles of encouragement, ways to pray before God and words of comfort. Receiving reminders like, “We live not by toilet paper alone. Looking forward to seeing you guys soon for Bible study!” from Jayden, our chapter’s current president, lightened the mood. Scripture was shared. Rebecca, a first year medical student, chimed in with John 16:33. Chapter Vice President Vanessa sent out a beautiful exhortation, “Please remember to make time for God today. Reach out to Him in prayer, worship and thanksgiving. He loves you. He wants a personal connection with you…Talk to Jesus about your thoughts. You might not hear a response today, but the Almighty Creator listens attentively to His beloved child—you.” What a stark contrast this was to the often heartbreaking, constantly sensational and sometimes fear-mongering media updates bombarding us from all devices.
My church community did likewise. The social media group increased its usual conversation activity. All prayer meetings, fellowships and communions were transitioned online via Zoom. People were “showing up” for one another as best as they could in these unprecedented circumstances.
Amidst the cabin fever, anxiety and despair, it is more important than ever that we support one another, as well as our community. We may be quarantined and limited in our usual mobility, but we can give our time virtually to show up for others. We can donate to efforts helping those fighting on the frontlines. And finally, we can lean on the Father who loves and cares for us.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37, ESV).