Corona Stories: Reflections on Death When the Toilet Paper is Gone

I get a little nervous not being paranoid these days. The crowds that trampled through Walmart before I got there one sunny afternoon had clawed the cleaning supplies and toilet paper shelves empty. I almost felt as if I was whistling past a graveyard as I walked by the bare wire racks left in the wake of those fearful folks hanging their hope of survival on hand sanitizer and bottled water.

All was calm and quiet by the time I was strolling through the empty aisles looking to grab some scented trash bags. That little edge of the the aisle was, thank God, still full. (Apparently no one’s considering where they’re going to toss all those empty hand sanitizer and water bottles.)

Awakened Minds

As I walked by those few dead and empty shelves wondering if my whistling was foolish bravado or if maybe I should find some hand sanitizer too, I thought about how the effects of something we can’t even see with our naked eye awakens us to how fragile our bodies actually are. We fear those things that can kill our bodies and never consider what happens after we get dropped into the ground of an actual graveyard. Empty shelves and empty souls look alike: there’s nothing there to share with others.

After skipping past the Cadbury eggs and Reese’s bunny ears, I stepped back into the sunny afternoon, with the little box of bags in my hand. I squinted my eyes for a moment as they adjusted to the full and hearty light, took in the effects of God’s beauty and love around me and contemplated His great love for me and shook at the thought of offending or losing Him who has power over life and death, body and soul.

This gift of the fear of the Lord doesn’t breed paranoia, but instead gives a great peace and happiness, and I’d like more of it. Instead of loading up on hand sanitizer and water these days I’m thinking of loading up on God’s Good Graces, confession and the Eucharist. I’ll take the host in the hand if need be.

I’ll take Him whatever way I can get Him. He fills me up so I can share the hope of glory and these days of empty shelves and empty souls could use some real hope, even though I get a little nervous about sharing it.


Travis Jones is a blue collar dad filling up his journal for his girls. His last article was “Men of Dust and Ashes: An All Souls Meditation.” You can find all his articles here, including his reflection on having cancer. 

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