Well, here we are. Personally, forty plus days into the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the western United States, and my kids' schools announced their closure approximately 24 hours shy of the district's scheduled Spring Break - Friday, the 13th, no less. Of course, some areas of the United States experienced shutdowns prior.
I don't need to tell you how it's affected so many. Our jobs have been upended and even lost. Unnecessary businesses required to shut down temporarily, and other denizens of society forced to close their doors indefinitely. Finances are tight or, even, destitute. And, so very much loss of life worldwide. While we may feel like we should be emotional pros at this by now, the cyclone of ups and downs many of us have felt in past months continues to swirl. In its path, this disaster hurls feelings ranging from grief, loss, fear of the unknown, and dread over finances and jobs to joy in spending time with loved ones who live with us. So many missed milestones, so much pain, so much uncertainty. Alas, I think there's beauty in the ashes, if we are able to search for it. In taking stock of the past month and a half, I'm trying to focus on this short list of pandemic "pros". Here it is:
Love/Hate Relationship with Screens: I have to think that the dependence on screens for learning, working, interacting with friends and so many other formerly in-person tasks will change the way we view screens. They're not so enticing when we're all forced to rely on them more than usual.
A Return to Community: According to Forbes, the global pandemic and its aftermath call for "flexibility agility, and resilience on the part of younger people." The article goes on to declare that older generations must take the opportunity to support them (if possible), and nurture them today because - well, we need them in the long term. In kind, then, we all should be doing our part to make certain our elderly neighbors have the support they need. I, for one, need to do more.
The Slow-down: For so many reasons, some of us desire the return to "normal"--a healthier economy by increasing spending and getting back to earning an income. But, along with this, "normal" may return to speeding up, dangerous stress levels, bad spending habits, neglecting our own self-care and care for others, foregoing taking necessary time to slow down and relax, something we've been forced to do since quarantine began. Axis Ministries' "Cultural Translator" newsletter said it best:
...Unlike a dog returning to its vomit, may we never get back to normal. Because if we’re honest, a significant amount of normative society was toxic. We knew it, we were just too busy to do anything about it. As author Christopher Lasch laments, to see the world from a parent's point of view is to see it in the “worst possible light,” revealing how totalizing and formative modern society is on us and our children. Whether it’s our obsession with sex and violence, our dependence on pharmaceutical drugs, our constant need for anesthetizing entertainment, our struggling educational system, our neglectful stewardship of creation, or our wanton desire for more of everything, we’re slaves to a system that normalizes dehumanization, a system of commodification and consumption, where everything and everyone is up for sale. Do we really want to get back to that kind of normal?
And, finally, JOY: Because, for the first time in years, our teenagers and young adults are actually home. They cannot, for a few months, at least, be pulled away for innumerable reasons like sports or other extracurricular activities, jobs, church functions, and - even - school.
So, that's my list. I am truly aware of the fact that my suffering does not equal my neighbor's, nor so many who have lost immeasurably during this crisis. But, I have to think that there are lessons amid the storm, beauty in the ashes.
My prayers are with you, Friends, and everyone around you for a peaceful and safe next few months!