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Pandemic Routine and COVID-19

I can’t believe we’re hitting around four months of life with COVID-19 now (at least, in the United States). Masks and public precautions seem commonplace and Zoom just seems part of life now. When the pandemic first hit the US back in March, the Bay Area was one of the first places to issue for a strict shelter in place policy. I remember joking with my friends at the time that life under quarantine would be “my time to shine” as an introvert. I constantly want and need more quiet, alone time to feel settled as a functioning human being.

So the first few weeks (after the initial shock and craziness) was actually a positive experience for me. It gave me needed time to reflect on my thought and emotions, and it helped me parse through how I am experiencing and processing the world. At around the same time, my church and many other faith organizations were scrambling to figure out what a loving, collective Christian response would be. Do we continue activities that demonstrate our love for each other and our worship of God, in recognition that the our physical manifestation on this earth is not the only reality we put our hope in? Or, do we amend our behavior and comply with the public health orders as a demonstration of our commitment to loving our neighbor and prioritizing those who are most vulnerable to the virus in our society? There were justified motivations behind both branches of response.

And that kind of reflection is ongoing. What started out as “my time to shine” may more aptly be changed to “God’s time to shine.” There are several ways of seeing the pandemic in a positive light:

  • We are forced to reflect, to ponder what truly is important in our lives

  • We are forced to confront the disparities and divisions that are made more readily apparent by the crisis

  • We are forced to accept our limitedness

  • We are forced to adapt (and change?)

All of those are opportunities for us to encounter God. In my church, we’ve started with a baseline assumption that adhering to public safety guidelines is one way we demonstrate love to those around us. But in the wake of not being able to gather, in the reality of having conducted “virtual church” for the past couple of months, it begs the question: is there some aspect of in-person Christian worship that is sacred and cannot actually be replicated online? This pandemic gives us a serious reason to reflect on what we do and why we do what we do. It also shows us, point-blank, how limited and fragile our lives are.

The pandemic has also been heightening divisions in our country. Socioeconomic and racial lines are being deepened, especially when communities of color are being disproportionately affected in terms of risk and hospitalization rates. People within the same communities (or even families) can have completely divergent and even hostile opinions on how to react to rapidly changing circumstances. And of course there’s the political undercurrent that always does more to divide than to unify.

Where does this leave us? On one hand, I think we’ve learned the lesson that we cannot take anything in life for granted. This pandemic has revealed our deep neediness for God, for justice, for some semblance of hope in these trying circumstances. But on the other hand, I really hope that there can be actual adaptation or change throughout this process. Similar to the Black Lives Matter revival, my fear is that when things blow over, people will just “return to normal.” What’s the point of “learning a lesson” if we never change our behavior after the fact? I’m an introvert and I’m liking working from home and sheltering in place. But I’m afraid that I’m already adapting to these circumstances and becoming too comfortable—complacent even—to really challenge myself meaningfully.

Question: what area of your life do you find yourself being most complacent in?

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Published in#reflection

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