A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, Ecclesiastes 3:4-6 (NIV)
I have about decided my stomach upset was a result of food poisoning. Husband and I grilled shish kabobs on Friday night. Almost as soon as dinner was done, my stomach started rumbling, but husband was fine. I had chicken kabobs. He had beef. Need I say more? But, along the way, I began worrying that I might have swine flu. It caused me great alarm because with all the graduation festivities, I could have exposed our entire family and most of my friends as well. With all the hugging and hand slapping, I could have taken out the entire town. I kept thinking of the e-mail sent out at work regarding precautions against the spread of swine flu. It went like this:
“We realize that there is growing anxiety about swine flu and how it may affect us personally and the operations of our office. We encourage all employees to follow the CDC’s recommendations to practice the following good health habits which are known to limit the spread of any contagious illness:
1. Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Limit or eliminate shaking hands. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
3. Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Then throw the tissue away and wash your hands. If you can’t reach a tissue in time, sneeze into your elbow. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
4. Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.”
The first thing I thought when I read the guidelines was that of all the times that people need a hug most, this is the time. We are in such a stressful place with our economy in the dumps, uncertainty over the future and fear of illness and now, we are being told, not to get to close to anyone. In one breathe they say, manage your stress; in the other, keep your distance. The best remedy for heartache is usually a hug or a shoulder to cry upon. I will be careful. I will wash my hands and cover my mouth and nose. I’ll stay home when I am sick. But, I don’t think it is possible for me not to reach out and touch someone when that someone looks like they can use a hug. That’s just good medicine.