It’s started, as we all knew it would. Quiet rumblings of ‘going back to normal,’ of reopening the economy, of again having the freedom to grab a cup of coffee, take our kids to the park, fly across the country to see Nana, hug a dear friend in the pews of a church. It’s a sweet relief to see these conversations beginning, to watch the news reports with quiet hope, to look around and see a potential end instead of a foreign and scary gray space.
As I’ve watched these conversations slowly begin to grow in strength and volume, I’ve felt a tiny tug of remorse, a pang of longing for a season which I think all of us want to run quickly away from. I can’t help but think about the things I want to carry with me as we reengage with life again, as we run back to the many things that filled our days. I can’t help but wonder if all of us need to hang on to something from this, if there is something each of us can bring with us when we ‘go back to normal.’
I can’t help but hope that we cling tightly to the things that have been good and beautiful in these months.
The extra smiles of the neighbors on the street, as we acknowledge each other with joy, relief, and the quiet acknowledgement that this is hard, but we’re going to make it.
The respect and admiration we’re showering on care providers, who have always and will always sacrifice their lives every day to make the people we love well.
The extra calls to Nana and Papa on Facetime, just to check in and see how they’re doing on a isolated Tuesday.
The extra snuggles with our toddler in the morning, because there’s no early morning coffee meeting to get to.
The sweet knowledge that the church really isn’t a building, that the peace of Jesus can be found in the confines of our own living rooms.
The Wednesday night game of cribbage with our husband, because we’d forgotten the soul-filling goodness of a game night and a glass of wine.
The interrupting noisy baby on the conference call, a sweet testament to the privilege of working and raising a family.
The extra gratitude we’ve extended to grocery store employees, delivery workers, and janitors, who have always and will always work even when others can’t.
The bag of groceries and diapers on the front porch, because our neighbors know that this season has hit us especially hard.
The sidewalk chalk messages, meant to inspire, to encourage, to remind us that we are in this together.
The homemade loaf of bread on the counter, a testament to some extra space and time to do something beautiful with our hands.
This season, this quarantine, this pandemic – it has touched every life. For some, these weeks have reoriented our lives forever and we will spend months or years trying to put the pieces back together. And for others, these weeks will be a minor irritation, a time to ‘remember when’ we wore masks to pick up our groceries. But the truth is that none of us has survived unscathed, none of us will ever forget these months, and none of us should run away from this without holding on to the things we’ve learned.
As we move forward with cautious expectation, I can’t help but hope that this season of ‘making do’ with what we have will stick. That we won’t forget the humbling, equalizing power of a pandemic. That as the economy reopens, as we blessedly find employment again, we won’t forget that we are actually really good at taking care of each other. That we will continue to see our neighbors, our husbands, our grandparents, our grocery clerks, as people worthy of an extra check in, a hug, a smile. That we will remember that we actually are okay without all of the extra stuff – on our plates, on our calendars, on our minds. That we will remember that we are all far more the same than we are different – and that has always and will always be true.
I don’t want to go back to ‘normal.’ I want to remember this. I want to continue to acknowledge the story of others, to keep extending empathy to every person’s challenges, to honor those who work so very hard to serve others. I want this to change me. I want this to leave me living in a new, a better, a more empathetic, unified, grateful normal. And I want it to do the same for you too.