At this writing, our globe has grappled with COVID-19 for almost a year. It has changed everything for too many people, and too many things for everyone.
“I don’t want a new normal,” my friend said, referring to those pandemic changes. She stamped her foot a bit and fumed. “I—we all—just want our old normal back!” That made me smile, because she expressed my own (and perhaps your) thoughts to perfection. Boring old normal sounds a little like heaven about now.
Today, I heard, “What I miss most is sitting next to someone I love, a child, a friend, a grandchild; looking them in the eyes, and finding that love reflected there. What I miss most is the touch of their hand on mine, their hugs and assurance that no matter what, we’ll weather this storm together.”
But our little boats of life have taken a beating. Even without a physical infection, the virus has the potential to weaken us as individuals and as a society. Neighbours view with suspicion the out-of-province car parked in the driveway next door. We fret when a group of people outnumbers pandemic guidelines, or a public person looks like he/she isn’t keeping the correct social distance.
Worried employers and employees, customers and service people find themselves at odds, fretting and fearful, and taking it out on each other. Most of us have mistakenly meandered this way down the that way aisle and been snapped at by a fellow customer for doing so. Gotten or given stinkeye for wearing, or not wearing, our masks.
Closer to home, relationships previously thought as sturdy as the Canadian Shield have proven not so. COVID-related actions, opinions and discussions have become a sharp wedge, slicing ugly divides between family members and friends. We’ve learned a lesson in how easy it is to jeopardize what has been forged over years, even a lifetime, of trust and care.
Hard times like these affect everyone. For we who follow Christ, the pandemic has challenged the depth of our commitment to trust God. To love and forgive others. To speak truth and live it. To follow the way of peace when surrounded by fear, mistrust and strife. To spread joy. To think of others more than ourselves.
We have all lost something during this pandemic. Some have lost to economic distress, some to death, some to broken relationships. We will likely lose more before it’s over. Who or what next, we wonder. And will our world will ever claw its way back to our old favourite state of “boring old normal?” Only God knows.
We are as grass, the Psalmist wrote. Fresh and green in the morning, withered and mowed down by evening. In view of that truth, I pray, “Lord, teach me the lessons you want me to learn. Please let me love. Please help me forgive. Please allow me to bless. And please, show me how to be kind.”