“I just can’t wait until this is all over and things can go back to normal.”
I felt the fatigue and worry in my friend’s voice as she spoke these words, and I feel it, too. I want to see my preschool music students face-to-face, want to gather with my friends and family. I want my college daughter to be able to go back to the campus she loves and my son to return to the career in which he found so much success and joy. I want to go to church and hug my people and worship together. I can’t wait until this is all done and I can sit in a restaurant with dear ones and we can clink celebratory wine glasses, but I think it’s fair to say that things will never be ‘normal’ again, not really, and maybe that’s okay and even good.
On the other side of this odd and unearthly time, we will all be changed. We may be wiser, calmer, more hopeful and focused on what’s important. Or we may be more discouraged, aimless, numbed out, even shattered by this experience. Some of us will have lost jobs or loved ones or even our own lives in this time, and though I pray this isn’t the case for me and you, it’s a reality that we need to look at with sobriety. As humans, as society and as a world, we are at a crossroads, and how we operate in this time will tell part of the story of who we become on the other side. Things will not be normal after this.
There’s time and lots of it now, for discernment and exploration. Time to gather information and sit quietly and question and discover what it is you really believe. There’s time to consider your innate gifts and why you’re here and how you can share them with a weary world. There’s time to ask the questions: What is this all for? Why am I here? – then begin to find the answers and responses that settle within your quiet soul and then translate those answers to action.
The time after 9/11 was a clarifying time, too, with lots of people making career changes and choosing service and recognizing with intentionality the value of a life directed toward others. I pray this is a similar time, but instead of an outward, nationalistic focus, I pray these changes will start small, on the inside of people, with one small spark, one tiny light of recognition, one glimmer of hope. And like a mustard seed, it’ll grow.
Because you’re not alone, you know. You never were.
There are three friends of mine I’m thinking of as I type these words. They’re among the very best people I know and every time we cross paths, which is unfortunately rare, I see a light around them. Their goodness wells up from within them, their kindness and humor evident to all who know them, and I’m not sure they recognize that incredible light within themselves. Today it’s my prayer that they do. That you do. Because the very fact that you woke up this morning with air in your lungs means there’s work to be done, the hard work of stillness and discovery and seeking that light that’s been living within you since even before you took your first breath. You’re known and loved. You are not alone.
Breathe. Listen. What do you hear?
No, it won’t be normal after this. Maybe, in ways we cannot yet fathom, it will be better.