Cars from villages all over the area were arrayed in a circle facing, and surrounding, the hospital Sunday evening. At exactly 7:30, the headlights were turned on, flashers were activated and healthcare workers were pressed up against the window panes watching. After exactly a minute, the lights went off and prayers went up. - Ada Herald
Cars from villages all over the area were arrayed in a circle facing, and surrounding, the hospital Sunday evening. At exactly 7:30, the headlights were turned on, flashers were activated and healthcare workers were pressed up against the window panes watching. After exactly a minute, the lights went off and prayers went up. (Ada Herald/Joe Schriner)

BLUFFTON — It happened in a blustery, gathering dusk Sunday evening.

Cars from area towns in Hardin and Allen counties started to stream into the parking areas surrounding the Bluffton Hospital. It looked like, perhaps, over 100 vehicles.

They parked in a configured circular array, all facing the building. Dotting this vehicular landscape was also a fire truck, police car, and EMS vehicle.

At 7:30, on the dot, the police car blared its horn, and started its siren and overhead warning lights up. The fire truck and EMS vehicle followed suit.

In tandem, all the other vehicle headlights went on, along with emergency flashing signals.

Healthcare workers on the inside of the hospital pressed against the windows, watching.

After exactly one minute, the police horn blared. And everything stopped.

And it got still.

In that stillness, for the next minute, exactly, everyone prayed.

One of the de facto village photographers, Jamie NyGaard, stood atop a picnic table where she had been taking pictures. With her camera at her side, she raised an outstretched hand toward the hospital, bowed her head, and became lost in prayer.

Everyone prayed for the healthcare workers, the staff, the patients… After another minute, all the engines started and the vehicles filed out onto the streets, and back to their respective shelters in place, so to speak.

What this had been was a brief, but powerful, show of solidarity.

Last week, Blanchard Valley Health System established a COVID-19 Triage and Testing Center on the campus of Bluffton Hospital.

Also, on Sunday, the NY Times published a piece with the headline: ‘Coronavirus Cases, Concentrated on the Coasts, Now Threaten America’s Middle’.

It starts: “A second wave of coronavirus cases is charting a path far from coastal Washington State, California, New York and New Jersey…”

Those people in the windows at the Bluffton Hospital Sunday night will be on the front line in the fight against this “second wave” that the Times reporter writes about.