One of the real benefits of being sequestered or quarantined during this pandemic is the availability of audio and video religious presentations from a plethora of sources. Besides access to virtual Catholic Masses, I have noticed many other denominations and churches publicizing access to their services.

In addition to religious services, there are also many authors and presenters who are hosting prayer services, discussions and Bible studies, and presentations on many aspects of doctrine, theology, morality and ways of coping with the stresses of our current situation.

It must have been in one of the presentations we watched early on wherein the priest made a profound statement about expectations. If I remember it accurately, he stated, “Expectations are the killers of joy.”

Thank goodness he continued on at length to explain himself because I didn’t get it for a while.

His bottom line: When has any trip, vacation or similar venture exceeded your expectations? Far too often we imagine a trip to a guaranteed paradise only to end up dealing with a lumpy bed, a room without a view, a full week of rain, a child’s sickness, an overcrowded amusement park, a sudden migraine, needing an emergency root canal, being confined to a stateroom on a cruise ship - you get the idea I’m sure.

If we started out with a spirit of adventure without preconceived expectations we could perhaps take whatever is thrown our way as a new experience instead of a punch in the gut.

Enter this pandemic.

What did we individually and as a family, parish, city, county and nation think was going to happen? What did our government leaders expect would be the citizens’ reactions to all the restrictions and measures they imposed?

I am going to ignore the blamestorming that is now part of nearly every newscast, talk show, discussion, news conference and so on. History will show we were not prepared any more than we were for World War II, Korea, the Gulf War, the Spanish flu, the Asian flu, polio, SARS and AIDS (HIV).

With that in mind, the actions of the federal and state governments have been typical, sometimes disjointed and not always effective. It has taken a while to get things on track, and America is now beginning to do what America does best. And government needs to start listening to the people's expectations.

We may not have flattened the curve as much as some leaders want, but the people have realized more than many leaders that the current state of affairs socially and economically is unsustainable - unless the government wants to impose martial law, which would only lead to more conflict.

It makes little sense that Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, Menards and supermarkets are all open for business while the little guys who collectively employ more than the big box stores are supposed to shut up and color. That’s not lost on the citizenry.

I remember when spring started every year that I was in school. About mid-April my mind was outside the classroom wanting to play in the sun and newly sprung grass. Now kids are not even supposed to leave the house except for a walk that includes avoiding contact with others outside their family. Many parents who are stressed from not working are trying to help with school lessons - I’ll bet the new math is going to lose a lot of parent support after this experience.

The expectations of an easy quarantine have now run into the reality of no school, no school day care programs before and after classes for working parents, and closed parks and playgrounds, amusement parks, beaches and other recreational facilities. We cannot get in-person routine health care, dental visits, elective surgery either.

But you can still get an abortion and some online pornography sites are offering free content - what a country!

It’s fine to give away “free” money. But it’s a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound and the inflation that is certain to follow will hurt more than anyone realizes now.

It’s time to figure out how to balance social risk with economic reality and let the citizens play a part managing their families’ risks.

And if I hear “new normal” one more time, I’ll probably toss my cookies.

Well, that’s the way I see it.