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By Helena Smrcek

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Lately, I have been thinking of the Israelites wondering the desert. Forty years of their lives spent in a place they did not enjoy. Who could blame them for complaining, wanting to go back to their slave masters, and taking their frustrations out on their leader?

It has been a little over a year for us. We don’t need manna and quail, because our stores are full. The concept of lineups has been generally embraced, although none of us relish standing around for hours. Thankfully, we have our phones.

Most of us don’t have to pitch a tent to keep roof over our heads, we do take running water for granted, and don’t have to follow a pillar of smoke to get where we want to, as the GPS will ensure that. Yet we complain, protest, through dirt on our leaders, forgetting that they are in this too. Yes, I do wish for a miraculous solution, a magic wand to wave all of this away, but I’m afraid such thing doesn’t exist.

Missing yet another family dinner, I think of those who had to put their wedding plans on hold, never mind planned trips and vacations. Let’s think of those who lost their jobs, businesses, loved ones. Yet, we complain. One camp wants freedom, business as usual, the other camp urges for a complete shutdown. One side refuses to take the vaccine, the other is angered by the lack of it. Some attack the leadership for not instituting paid sick days, the business owners wonder who will be paying for those. The economy struggles and our astronomical debt grows by a billion dollars each day. Yes, the US debt is higher, but comparing ourselves to a giant is not exactly fair.

In a typical Canadian way, our leaders are looking for a middle-of-the-road solution. This way no one is happy. The media loves it, as they need to fill the void left by sports, community events, and cultural news. The more we hear, the more we grumble. The cycle continues.

I hope this will not go on for forty years. Although sermons had been preached, criticizing the Israelites for millennia, I’m starting to gain a new level of appreciation for them. Looking at our own approach to this difficult situation, I wonder what the prophets would write about us. How are we going to be remembered? The danger is real, although many deny the science. Even peace preaching Christians choose to defend their rights and confront the police. Can we blame them? After all, Apostol Peter grabbed a sword to defend Jesus.

Fiscal responsibility is out the window, as everything is blamed on COVID. Still, there are cries for more cash. The grim truth is that 53 per cent of Canadians are $200 away from bankruptcy each month, and that is with all the current subsidies and super low interest rates. The housing market is insane, and thousands loaded up on huge mortgages. What will happen when the rates move up?

Living in a desert still seems much harder to me. So, I will stop criticizing the Israelites for their fear to fight for their promised land. Maybe grumbling at their leadership was a good thing, it gave them something to do, and perhaps even built a sense of community and belonging, joining a group sharing the same complaints.

Gathering free food, getting water from the rock, even surviving the heat and the cold of their arid environment, not needing new shoes of clothing? They were right. No mall in sight, no restaurant to order their favorite food, no sports to blow off some steam. Amazon? Not yet invented. No one in their right mind would like that. It was all Moses’ fault.

So here we are. As the third wave sweeps through Ontario, and our major airport welcomes thousands, and thus introduces new variants to our population, while the vaccines are delayed, and then delayed again, we point fingers, criticize and complain. This pandemic is crimping our lifestyle and it’s all our leaders’ fault.

Ontario Hospital - Courtesy CBC
Then I think of the millions of Ontarians that quietly put on their masks, sanitize their hands as asked, comply with the social distancing rules, and patiently wait their turn to register for a shot. Then there are those who continue to work, despite the danger of exposing themselves, keeping our system moving. I venture to say that those are the ones who preserve our culture, our values, the famous Canadian politeness. We need to draw strength from that. There is no easy solution to this crisis. We watch our healthcare gasping for breath, yet let’s not forget, Ontario pays for each and every person in need of medical assistance. Unlike our neighbours to the south, we don’t walk away from a hospital with a bill the size of our mortgage.

As I look at the sunrise, I can’t help but feel hope. The trees are ready to burst into bloom, birds are busy building nests, grass is greener, even on my side of the fence. How will our generation be remembered? I certainly hope that those who come after us won’t just view the archived footage of our daily news to form an opinion on how we, as a society, dealt with this pandemic.

We read the Old Testament and highlight the unhappy nation, lost for forty years, as an example of what not to do. Let’s not become such example ourselves. This is the time for Christians to shine. The opportunities to bless others with small acts of kindness are all around us. Perhaps if we shift our focus from the negative news cycle, it will be easier to see those who desperately need God’s love. What if we challenged ourselves to do three little things each day to encourage, help and support someone instead of spreading discontent? We have so much to be thankful for, and there are so many in our neighbourhoods who could use some of what we got: the abundance of blessing, the hope that never dies, and the unconditional, everlasting love of God.

About the author...
Helena Smrcek, a journalist, author, and screenplay writer, believes in the power of a well-told story. Her readers can expect a captivating page-turner, filled with thrilling suspense, and heartwarming romance.

She started in publishing as a high school student, freelancing for her local newspaper. Her journalism carrier took off in 1999. Within three years Helena accumulated over 100 by-lines and interviewed Ann Graham Lotz, Carol Lewis, Cec Murphey, Kelita and others. Her stories, many of them covers, have been published in Canada, USA, Bermuda, New Zealand, and Australia. In 2002 she accepted a position at Listen Up TV, a current affairs program.

Helena became a founding member of Write!Canada, and The Word Guild, a Canadian national association of writers and editors. She is a graduate of Jerry Jenkin’s Craftsman Class, Act One, Donald Maass’ Fire in Fiction, Writer’s Police Academy, and several mentoring programs.

She regularly attends writers’ conferences and is a past or current member of such organizations as Word Weavers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Toast Masters International, Boni, The Writer’s Guild, and others. Helena loves to participate in NaNoWriMo and hosts a writers’ group.

As an entrepreneur, she is familiar with marketing, branding, and social media. She has volunteered with YMCA, mentoring new Canadians pursuing their business dreams, and was an active member of her local Chamber of Commerce.

When not at her keyboard, Helena loves listening to audio books. Working on her hobby farm, and traveling. She lives in the Waterloo Region, Ontario, with her husband, two adult children, two dogs, several cats, and her favorite goat, Rosie.