Thursday, May 14, 2020


L a s t   B r e a t h
She breathed her last breath in that one hour. The nurse made rounds in the Alzheimer’s ward in a memory care facility and she was sleeping peacefully, but the next hour on the rounds, she had stopped breathing. On Monday, May 4th, 2020, before day break, my dear Aunt Barb (my daddy’s older sister) went home to heaven.  This recent, relevant, family event has prompted obituaries, coroner’s reports, funeral homes visits, and discussions about “last breath” and wonderful life moments. I dedicate today’s address to my Aunt Barb and her family and share a collection of some wisdom, from others, on the topic of Breath.  

B r e a t h I n g   a n d   C o v I d 1 9
When I asked how Covid-19 impacts that lungs here’s the answer I received:
“Think of your respiratory tract as an upside-down tree. The trunk is your trachea, or windpipe. It splits into smaller and smaller branches in your lungs. At the end of each branch are tiny air sacs called alveoli. This is where oxygen goes into your blood and carbon dioxide comes out.
The new coronavirus can infect the upper or lower part of your respiratory tract. It travels down your airways. The lining can become irritated and inflamed. In some cases, the infection can reach all the way down into your alveoli.
COVID-19 is a new condition, and scientists are learning more every day about what it can do to your lungs. They believe that the effects on your body are similar to those of two other coronavirus diseases, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).” WebMD

B r e a t h   P r a y e r

“Breath prayer has been practiced in the church for millennia. It is a form of contemplative prayer linked to the rhythms of breathing. Contemplative prayer is prayer that is focused on being with God, awakening to his presence in all things. Contemplative prayer in some forms can be prayer without words, or few words. This allows us to be released from thinking too much about praying the “right words,” being in our heads too much as we pray, and being released into praying with our hearts instead. This is why breath prayer is also called “prayer of the heart.”
The desire is to pray a simple, intimate prayer of heartfelt desire before God. It is another way to practice the presence of God (another contemplative spiritual discipline), or staying present to God in the moment. God is close to you, closer than your breath. The more you practice breath prayer, the more you learn to pray without ceasing. Breath prayer is one way to do full and embodied prayers (with your whole being), which brings to mind Acts 17:28: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” It is also a critical reminder that just as we can’t live without breathing physically, we can’t live without breathing spiritually with God as the source of oxygen to our souls.” (Christianity Today – Take Time for Breath Prayer)
My good friend, colleague, a soul-wellness expert, Sharne Winter-Simat, was the first person I heard speak of “breath prayer” and helped lead us in this type of calm communication to God. She has graciously shared her wisdom with our staff throughout this year – bit by bit – stringing together precious pearls of truth – that have helped all of us hold to something dear - navigate through dusty times and desert wanderings.  I mentioned her in my last address as well under the section about protecting our Lungs and Breathing Deeply. Her content is housed in a package called “Good Loops” and she has graciously shared access to them. Here is her link
 B r e a t h   o f   G o d
רוח (Ruah) is the Hebrew word used by the Old Testament authors to mean "wind", "breath", and "spirit".  Ruah however was most specially understood by the Hebrews to be the "breath of God" present in all living, a distinct presence of God enabling life to be; the animating presence of God impelled by connection to breath, God's anima requisite for creatures to live. Humanity's first recorded encounter with God's Ruah is found in the first of the Five Books of Moses at Genesis 2:7,” the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life (Ruah), and so man became a living being." (DanWeb – Ruah)
"...concerning ruah, we can say that the breath of God appears in them as the power that gives life to creatures. It appears as a profound reality of God which works deep within man. It appears as a manifestation of God's dynamism which is communicated to creatures."

Pope John Paul II;  Jan. 3, 1990       

P r a y I n g   l I k e   B r e a t h i n g
How do we ever pray without ceasing? By breathing prayers all day. Today on this National Day of Prayer, May 7th, 2020, may we be breathing in and breathing out the prayers we need. I need you every hour O gracious God and I need you especially today.  I have never before sensed my need for your wisdom, guidance, love for those around me.  We desire the whole world to be filled with the “knowledge of the glory of the Lord”! My inbox is full, I have Zoom fatigue, the weariness of this world-wide pandemic is evident and hope is wearing thin. We feel the anxiety of conflict and crisis.
I shared a story today with many people of the 1918 Pandemic of the Spanish Flu that consumed that last breath of my great-grandmother. She was planning on immigrating to the United States of America from Italy – but she didn’t make the trip.  The Pandemic took her life.  My grandmother had to come without her and find the faith and family and personal fortitude to do so.  We have shared this story during this Pandemic of Covid-19. My own mother has found encouragement during these difficult times of isolation to feel connected.  To think of preserving her own lungs and take good care of her personal body.  To find strength in prayer – that unites us over space, time, and distance.  We have been close in prayer – even today – for one hour as over Zoom we prayed for our community, churches and country.

Click here to join in the ENTIRE National Day of Prayer broadcast and enjoy seeing faces of the children in our Hand In Hand Christian Montessori near the end (45.11 exactly).  What an honor to be included and asked to participate and pray.  

B r e a t h e   O n   M e   B r e a t h   o f   G o d 
My brother gave me a small plaque years ago that sits on my desk in my office “Things to do today: Breathe in and out.” It made me smile because he knows me well.  I can stress. I can hunch my shoulders and forget to smile.  I can get intense.  I can hold my breath. This is not the way of practicing “Ruah-Breath of God.”  Prayer breathing and praying constantly are ways that we can sense that in God I move and have my being.  Without Him – I am nothing.  I can be breathing but I have no life.  May we understand God’s Breath in our lives until we breath our last earthly breath and our first heavenly one…
Breathe on me, breath of God: fill me with life anew, 
that as you love, so I may love and do what you would do. 

Breathe on me, breath of God, until my heart is pure, 
until my will is one with yours to do and to endure. 

Breathe on me, breath of God; fulfil my heart's desire, 
until this broken part of me glows with your heavenly fire. 

Breathe on me, breath of God; so, shall I never die, 
but live with you the perfect life of your eternity. 

Words: Edwin Hatch, (1835-1889) 
Music: Trentham, Robert Jackson (1840-1914)




I admit it; I am not that adventurous.  I find no pleasure in being wet, cold and scared – which pretty much rules out skydiving, parasailing, rollercoasters, extreme biking, and even boundary waters or white-water camping trips.  My bucket list contains activities that include sunshine, sandy shores, and safety.
Truth be told, staying home and staying safe hasn’t been outside my comfort zone. Besides being a government mandate and ensuring time and space for our healthcare community to equip and prepare for the pandemic, I welcomed the introspective, quiet time to have my college-and-career aged daughters and niece around my table, distant learning during the day, and evenings filled with coffee, movies, games and lengthy conversations. I even made the comment that “I could live like this forever.”  My youngest, who has always spoken her mind freely, retorted “but Mom, you are married, have a job, and have your kids with you. I don’t have any of those things.” True that.
It was then and now I realized that good for me doesn’t mean good for everyone. Safe for me isn’t safe for everyone. My pastor, Peter Haas, published a blogpost on May 13th, 2020 and listed all the effects of “stay home and stay safe”.  As we flattened one curve, many more emerged. Hunger. Alcoholism. Abuse. Depression. Suicide. Pastor Peter went on to write a unique piece on this pandemic through the lens of historical crises, especially the city fires of the early 1900s.  Here’s the link for the full copy. His perspective is timely and encouraged me to “take heart.”

This isn’t the first time I have wrestled with risk.
In May of 2013, my youngest was graduating from 8th grade in the HIgH at Hand In Hand Christian Montessori, the home-schooling academy I founded for my own children – Brock, Madeline and Meredith. I feared that the flame in me to keep the fire going would be snuffed out.  Without my own children, would I be as motivated for the multi-tasking, hard-work and extra-effort needed to keep the plates spinning? I toyed with the temptation of cutting the program back to bite-sized proportions making it easier to manage. In some ways I envisioned burying the good parts in a safe place.
As I was imagining a “dialing back” of Hand In Hand and my own involvement in August of 2013, I found myself at the Global Leadership Summit, (through complimentary tickets of the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Hand In Hand). It was there I encountered the words of Jossy Chacko, founder of the ministry Empart.  As he spoke from Chicago to the 250,000 attendees – it felt as if the message was custom designed for me from God. In essence, I heard…
“If you are holding in your hand a solution for one of the world’s many problems, it is your Christian obligation, your duty, or sole purpose, to share it. To grow it. To risk!  There can be no burying, no turning back, no playing-it-safe. To be the good and faithful servant, you must take the time, talents and treasures placed within your hands and multiply it. Share. Risk.”
It was there, in that dimly lit auditorium, I drove a stake in the ground. I committed to move forward with a stronger flame than ever before. I realized that if I lifted my eyes a little higher than my own home, I would see the children both locally and globally who need an opportunity for alternative, hands-on, inspired, Christian Education through Montessori.  My vision renewed and widened. The light shone down on the parable that Jesus told of the talents, which took on an entire new meaning for me.
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ Matthew 25:24-25.  The Parable of the Talents is not about salvation or works righteousness, but about how we use our work to fulfill our earthly callings. It is about whole-life stewardship, or “Stewardship with a capital ‘S‘.” The unfaithful steward in this parable didn’t so much waste the master’s money – he wasted an opportunity. 


New Color. New Logo. New Vision.
As a result, Hand In Hand changed its logo.  From the one hand print (Brock’s) to two hand prints that were shaped to reflect the world.  The colors changed along with the mission statement. The website was updated. An executive leadership team was formed. We partnered with Bethany Global University to train up new Christian Montessori missionaries to take the gospel message worldwide as well as stateside. We declared, out loud, to have a goal of birthing 25 schools by 2025 for Christ and His Kingdom. We launched the HIH Lab School in Bloomington and became two campuses instead of one. We had a rebirth with an internal heartbeat of “go big or go home.”
Home.  That’s where the dream started. But it couldn’t stay there.  Although it was safer and more controlled there – God had more. For me. And for others. It did take a risk on my part.
And with the risk came great reward. 
Of course, you know the evolution of the Hand In Hand story and are we are all experiencing the reward even as write this. (Read the #Next) 
I find myself in a similar place today as I did in 2013, dealing with risk.  This time the threat unseen.  And I am not talking about “the virus” (although this one is a wily thing).  The unseen threat is fear.  Fear to go out and about. Fear of opening back up. Fear of hosting students and being engaged in community again.  Fear our hands-on learning method is in jeopardy.  Fear the new-normal is a distant, electronic image experience.  What if we can never hold and touch Montessori materials or each other’s hands again? And are vaccines the answer to the fear? Or does that cause more anxiousness than the virus itself? What curves should we continue to flatten as others rise?
As my mind twirls and twists with fears of tomorrow, I sense the reminder that worry robs you of living fully. But perfect love casts out fear. I don’t know the future, but we can trust an unknow future to a known God. 
On Monday, May 18th, we will again resume some activities with permission from the Governor of Minnesota, and there is some risk involved.  To live and move and have our being in Christ means risking something, to leave the shore and travel out where, as the worship song says, “faith is without borders. Yes, let me walk upon the waters – wherever You might lead me.” 
Not so bravely – but sensing God’s hand in mine - I am stepping out. 
Join me. Won’t you? In risking. A great adventure awaits us.



When I was younger, I used stand in front of our laminate brown refrigerator before leaving for school and my mom (Mrs. Lee) would portion out a teaspoon of cod-liver oil to me.  True story.  I still can remember that fishy-slippery-residue in my mouth – but, she promised, through my grimace, it would build up my immunity.
Could have actually worked – since I have only missed one day of work, in 21 years. (That missed day was due to a strange, temporary case of vertigo that rendered me horizontal, eyes-closed, and completely useless).  Other than that event, I feel blessed that I have been spared many seasons of sicknesses and seem to have a “strong immune system.”
I recently was reading a newspaper and ran across an interesting article entitled “Immunity in the Time of COVID-19” by Lynn Jaffee.  It caught my eye.  The author of the article, a licensed acupuncturist and author of “Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health.” Seemed ironic.  But ancient Chinese medicinal secrets have long since been regarded as strategic in fighting and treating diseases that are “febrile” or “involving a fever.” Here Lynn’s five tips, in all caps, in “safeguarding immunity” during this pandemic. I expound on each topic.
# 1 – GET ENOUGH REST When you are tired and run down, your body breaks down as well.  In my mind, we are letting little cracks develop in the immune wall – sufficient for pathogens to creep inside. Besides immunity, sleep is a vital for the brain, the limbic area, and also for memory. I used to treat sleep as an interruption to all the fun – but not anymore.  I try to get at least eight and shoot for nine when possible.  I ensure that my sheets and bedding are comfortable; lavender (or other essential oil) is on my feet, my mind is at rest as I cast my cares on Jesus (because He cares for me and is up all night already).  My family and I remind each other “protect sleep” and teach this those we can. 
# 2 - TAKE CARE OF YOUR LUNGS Our lungs are vital to every breath the “first form of contact with the outside world as well as tasked with neutralizing harmful pathogens.” Since COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and affects the lungs primarily – care for our lungs is very important in boosting immunity and protection.  How do we do it? Deep breathing must be practiced as most of us are shallow-breathers.  A good friend and wellness mentor, encouraged our community to breath in four deep, expansive breaths, and slowly release four breaths as well. My daughter Madeline often says “breath dimensionally – allowing your body to expand in all directions.” We also must avoid really cold air and sucking it in as most Italians will attest to and choose to wear scarves around their necks/mouths – year-round (avoiding cold outside air in winter and cold air conditioning in summer). Facial masks could also be a protective measure for your lungs as many Asians would agree and practice. 
#3 – EAT GOOD FOOD We hear this all the time and honestly, although we know it in our heads often times we return to habits that are fast, easy, and familiar.  But we will always have what we have (low immunity and feeling sick and tired) unless we change who we are (strong immunity and full of vitality and life). Here’s some easy things to remember when grocery shopping next time (it starts there!) Three things I rarely put in my mouth: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, and Food Colorings. If I can’t read it – I don’t eat it. I stick to the outside aisles of the grocery store where all the food is fresh and will expire soon.  This means your digestive track will be working better.  Whites (sugars, flours and dairy) should be limited while green means go and good! Colorful meals with orange carrots, yellow squash, blueberries, purple beets, red tomatoes! One of my favorite sources for cooking is actually Pinterest! My girls and nieces have been making colorful meals each night during COVID-19 and finding creative meals on Pinterest. And I actually still take cod liver oil/omega 3 - thankfully, in capsules now.

#4 – TRAMP DOWN YOUR STRESS Two things come to mind when I think of de-stressors: water and Jesus.  Water has such a profound impact on reducing stress because of these few basic facts our bodies are 60-70% water and our brain is 85% water.  Our blood (50% water) is the main conductor system to send all essential nutrients to where it is needed most.  When our brains and bodies don’t get enough water, we can have mild headaches or severe dehydration.  We can suffer from low energy and high levels of cortisol.  If you are stressed or can’t think straight – grab a cup of water right away and encourage those you love to do the same. Commit to never having a hard conversation with someone without everyone drinking water first. Second, setting our minds on Jesus, worshipping, praying or listening quietly to Him are the best ways I know to de-escalate anxiety. When I get ramped up it is usually because I am putting myself in the captain’s chair and forgetting that Jesus is in control and driving this ship. Another way to put it - Worry puts self on the throne; Worship puts Jesus on the throne.

# 5 – GO OUTDOORS Just a good brisk walk does so much for mind, body and soul.  Nature nurtures. My Health and Wellness students at Bethany Global University have studied and researched the positive effectives on movement, nature, and the brain. In summary, Lynn writes that “while the COVID-19 virus affects people of all ages and health statuses differently, the statistics are telling us that…weakened immunity is a factor in negative outcomes. While having a healthy immune system may not determine whether or not you get the coronavirus, it may play a role in how sick you become if you should get it.”  “taking action, however small, can give you a sense of control in a situation that seems out of control.” She makes a good point.  Perhaps we seek immunity because it is the little part we CAN play in our defense amidst so many things we CANNOT control.  
As I was meditating on God’s Word and praying about this word-of-the-week, I realized that we, as believers in Christ whose blood is coursing through our veins have been offered immunity against all sorts of sin-sick diseases and ailments of a broken world.  Here are three immunities that are offered to the Christian who loves Jesus and who has the Holy Spirit alive inside of them…
Immunity against the Temptation to Sin  “To err is human and to forgive divine” is a well-known quote of Alexander Pope.  There is a common, widespread, truthful perception that if you are human you will sin. The Bible attests to the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” But for the believer – this is not the final answer. When the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within and makes His home in our hearts, therefore, we have an immunity against temptation and sin. But, only if we allow build up our faith-filled tanks.  It is not unlike the list above against protection against earthly pathogens. We need to practice and develop habits to help us fight the eternal enemies as well. Here’s just a few of many scriptural vitamins to help:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:16-17.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4.
 “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11.
“How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Psalm 119:9.
Immunity against Offense The Bait of Satan, as John Bevere writes in his book, is offense.  He challenges Christians to develop “an immunity” of sorts against this trap that so easily comes knocking at all of our front doors.  To inoculate ourselves against offense we simply must recognize it for what it is. I have found that first, to be easily offended means that our identity is not in Christ and our fragile beings have not be strengthened by the words and promises of Jesus. Second, it means that we, with insecure mindsets, are constantly thinking that things are about us – and in reality – they rarely are. Finally, it means that our lofty expectation is placed on another person’s reaction, invitation, inclusion, opinion (fill in the blank here) instead of on God. How do I know these things? I struggle with offensive. From the most unlikely of people. I have to consistently ask God to help me, wipe my tears, and live without being offended. These are wonderful scripture verses for immunity against offense:
 “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-8
 “Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” Ecclesiastes 7:21-22
“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3
Immunity against Death and Hell Jesus declares that Peter and consequentially, all believers in Him, will be given the keys of kingdom of heaven and whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19).  These keys, to death, hell and the grave, were captured by Jesus and forever will be used to offer a pass, an immunity against these eternal pathogens of the soul.  Jesus said, we therefore, don’t ever need to be afraid of anything that kill the body – only Satan – who can destroy both soul and body in hell. So I ask – O death? Where is your sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthian 15:55-57). Victory=immunity!
While spending a consortium-swap-semester at Wheaton College as a sophomore I enjoyed singing in the Woman’s Chorale. There I was introduced to one of my favorite songs “There is a Balm in Gilead.”  

The Balm of Gilead – What is it?

The balm of Gilead is mentioned three times in the Bible, but takes no central part in any account and is used as a metaphor in two of the appearances. 

Gilead was an area east of the Jordan River. A balm is a salve mixture made from plants that is used to make medicine and is usually aromatic. We don't know what the plants were to make the balm that came from Gilead, though it is thought to be made from the resin of a flowering plant. The balm of Gilead is also known as the "balsam of Mecca." 

Gilead's balm is first mentioned as part of the cargo of Ishmaelites as they encountered Joseph's brothers contemplating fratricide (
Genesis 37:25). Next, Jeremiah asks, "Is there no balm in Gilead?" upon learning from God that Babylon would be used to punish Judah (see Jeremiah 8:22). Later, God describes His judgment on Egypt and suggests that even the balm of Gilead won't help them (Jeremiah 46:11). 

There is something poetic about the balm of Gilead. It has been used by authors such as Edgar Allen Poe in "The Raven" and by others. A popular African-American spiritual, "There is a Balm in Gilead" compares its healing power with the saving power of Jesus.

As I was writing this address on “immunity” this song came flooding back to my memory. Somehow cod-liver oil for the body and the Balm of Gilead for the soul seems to be just the right prescription for this moment, this pandemic, and always… 
There is a balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole. 
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.
Click here for the rendition by Alice Parker (another of Mrs. Lee’s favorite people)

 Citations:  Article on Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts for boosting immunity. Disclaimers: readers should always use discernment when verifying news and sources. Use of this article doesn’t fully endorse all aspects of this news source nor its owners, or the owner’s belief. – There is a Balm of Gilead Choral Rendition

Friday, April 24, 2020


Non-essential or essential?  In the last 40 days of this world-wide quarantine (from Friday, March 13th until today, Thursday, April 23rd), I have felt bombarded with this concept of non-essential or essential. Scales of balance are tipping one way and then the other. I have equally been tossing pandemic-data around in my head, like clothes in my tumble dryer, that seem equally important and likely yet completely polar opposite of each other.  I feel like Sean and Gus on Psych who consistently repeat the phrase “I’ve heard it both ways…”
Although my industry has been deemed “essential” - I have discovered that I am in love with “non-essential” things…little things like getting my hair done at Aveda and and eating walleye fingers at the Bacon Social House to big things like hugging my mom and dad and worshipping in church with live music, standing side by side with my husband, children and friends. Meredith likes sipping coffee at Spy House and meeting friends at the MOA. Elizabeth misses live lectures from a professor and walking to class at her university.  Madeline misses dancing in a studio with hard wood floor and no-lag time in counting. Brent misses punching a real-bag at his boxing gym or lacing up skates for his men’s league hockey game. These non-essential things are starting to feel pretty essential to us for our sanity.
Who decided what is essential and non-essential?
To mask or not to mask - that is the question.
On March 25, 2020, our Governor of Minnesota issued an order regarding “stay at home” and deemed sectors of the economy either essential or non-essential. Today, April 23, 2020 our Governor is continuing to determine this perimeter. What counts as an essential according to the Governor?
While Walz’s order will close offices for a huge swath of Minnesota, many workers deemed essential may still report to their jobs. Broadly, essential jobs include:
·       Health care workers
·       Law enforcement and first responders
·       Emergency shelters
·       Child care facilities
·       Grocery stores, take-out restaurant service, farmers and other agriculture workers
·       News organizations
·       Power, gas and water services
·       Wastewater treatment and other sanitation or public works
·       Critical manufacturing, such as iron ore mining
·       Transportation and logistics
·       Construction and some trades, such as electricians, plumbers and elevator technicians
·       Financial services, including workers at banks (5)
Minnesota spokesman, Mr. Grove said his agency estimates 78 percent of the jobs in Minnesota are in critical industries as defined by Walz’s executive order. Grove estimated 28 percent of people in Minnesota will be “temporarily jobless” in Minnesota during the two-week period, and 59 percent of people not working will have access to some kind of paid leave. In the Minneapolis metro area, a study by the real-estate website Commercial Cafe says about 48 percent of workers fit general essential guidelines, and it estimated more than 1 million workers would need to stay home or work from home. But Grove said Minnesota’s definition of essential industries is more expansive than the federal one. (1)
For the full, State of Minnesota, Executive Department order from Governor Tim Walz on March 25, 2020 Click Here:

What counts as an essential according to the Dr. Maria Montessori?
Most people think of the “essentials” for living being food, shelter, water, clothing.  Our Montessori curriculum explores further study into the Fundamental Needs of Humans (exploring throughout times and cultures) and know that there are actually 10 Fundamental Needs divided into two distinct categories – spiritual and material, seen and unseen needs. Based on a cross-cultural study the fundamental needs of man fall into the following categories:
·       Fine Arts
·       Shelter
·       Nutrition
·       Clothing
·       Religion
·       Communication
·       Transportation
·       Defense
·       Vanity
·       Relationships
“Realizing the potential of our fundamental needs is essential in developing our capabilities as human beings, we have approached this material from a wider perspective. As Montessorians, we believe that by understanding these needs our children can become self-managing individuals.” (4)
What counts as an essential according to Webster?
Adjective : absolutely necessary; extremely important.
"it is essential to keep up-to-date records" Other words to describe essential: 



What counts as an essential according to the CDC and WHO and what are the facts?
As of today (3/23/20) Global confirmed cases: 2,665,122; total deaths: 186,131; total recovered: 727,170.  U.S confirmed cases: 843,891; total deaths; 46,859; total recovered: 77,436. (3) 4.4 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the jobless claims to over 26 million during pandemic. Preliminary studies in New York (and Los Angeles) show 13.9% have the coronavirus antibodies, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. (2). No doubt people are dying and this is a world-wide tragedy. 

Both agencies have been trying to provide current and relevant data which is intended to inform a seven-continent, 195-countries, multi-cultural world of the realities of an unseen, novel foe who seemingly shifts and changes with each passing day. Ponder all the discrepancies in the information and while some of this seems silly, it actually has been reported or practiced at one time or another during this pandemic. It truly is the strangest of times, and we seem to have more questions than answers.

·      Wear masks? Don’t wear masks because you don’t know how?
·      Wear gloves? No, wash your hands instead? But hand sanitizer is effective? 
·      Keep all PPE free for healthcare professionals? Fake PPE works for regular people?
·      Don’t hoard items- but where did all the toilet paper go? 
·      Wash your hands with antibacterial soap? Wash your hands with hot water (no cold, no, it doesn’t matter) no soap necessary for at least 20 seconds while singing happy birthday to yourself?
·      You might have all the symptoms but you aren’t sick with COVID? You might have COVID and you don’t have any symptoms?
·      We need more ventilators? We have enough ventilators? We don’t need them after all because they are not helping but hurting?
·      Standard University antibody study that the fatality rate of the infected will be 0.1 to 0.2%; WHO estimated with model projections 20-30X higher than this? Which model is true?
·      Stay indoors with your family but not friends but it’s okay to go to groceries stores with strangers but not friends; friends seem to be the problem here?
·      Disinfect all your groceries when you get them home from the store but you can eat delivery items right away?
·      Cardboard boxes carry COVID for a long time so leave all boxes outside?
·      Go outside, but all parks, playgrounds, and open areas have caution tape and closed signs on them?
·      Flattening the curve or lengthening the curve? Is the math the same if the curve is high and short or long and low? 
·      Can we protect the older, at-risk people? Will this prevent over-crowding hospitals?
·      The situation remains dire; we are entering the containment phase
·      Buying alcohol is essential but taking communion, except in your own home or car, is not-essential?
·      Does vital population immunity depend on exposure? Or does isolation just prolong the problem of the virus?
·      Is requiring a vaccination (once developed) for everyone the answer? Do people have a right to refuse?
·      Are some people dying because “non-essential” medical procedures being delayed?
·      Can I ever sneeze or cough in public again? Will I shake hands with a stranger ever again?

Despite the unanswered questions and the debate between essential and non-essential, our hearts and minds can find answers in one place – answers the same, yesterday, today and forever. 

What counts as an essential according to Jesus – who always gets the final Word.
Then Jesus (our Bread of Life; Living Water; Light of the World; Good Shepherd; Doorway; True Vine; Way, Truth and Life; Resurrection and Life), told them this parable: 

“Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31“So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. 33“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.  34“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36“But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – Luke 12:29-36.

Essential is Jesus and our humanness. Our dusty dependence on His Breath in our lungs that gives us life. Our relationships with one another and the desire to be known and know.  During this unprecedented and uncertain time – whether deemed essential or non-essential – may we know the love of God, how rich and sure, how measureless. Essential to be sure.


2.     John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.