I dream that the end of the pandemic will look like those old pictures of V-E Day when the end of World War II was announced. In my imagination, I can see people pouring into the streets as they hear the welcome news, “You can all come out now! Go ahead – you can sing! Hug! Gather together!” And there will be shouting in the streets as people laugh and shake hands and throw their masks in the air like graduation caps.
Will it really be like that? Probably not. But whenever the pandemic ends and however gradual that end might come, I think we will discover just how much we have changed through this experience. We are living through an era of history that will be taught to generations to come. Children will learn about this time when the world slowed down, even stopped sometimes, in an effort to keep ourselves healthy and safe.
It may take years for us to fully understand how the pandemic has changed us. We have lost and given up a lot during these long months. Much has been taken away. Many have lost loved ones. Students and teachers mourn the lack of “ordinary” events like gathering in classrooms for learning, conversation, and exploration. Parents yearn for a day without juggling work and online school. Churches stand empty and congregations yearn for shared worship and fellowship. Visits with friends, family, and neighbors are put off “until it is safe.” Beloved events and traditions have been put until – we hope – next year. Holidays are being scaled back or cancelled altogether.
Yet we are not without hope. My faith reminds me of the promise of resurrection and new life. And already – in the midst of this pandemic – we see signs of creativity and renewal. People have refused to simply give up despite the necessary restrictions placed on our behavior.
So I celebrate every ounce of innovation that has blossomed during this challenging time. Cheers for restaurants who have created outdoor dining areas, kudos to schools who have developed new ways to teach, congratulations to neighbors who visit in their yards, and blessings on congregations everywhere who have discovered new meaning in the words, “where two or three are gathered in my name.”
We are changing, we are growing, we are learning. Some activities we will gladly leave behind in the Covid era. But other new ideas will strengthen us in the days to come. We can’t fast forward through this experience. But we can trust that we will emerge stronger and with a greater appreciation of what we are missing now. New possibilities await.
Art/Line Drawing: Radici Studios. www.radicistudios.com