It’s been a year since we first made the acquaintance with the need for isolation and masks, and the image of the COVID virus that shows up every day on news stories. Of course, some felt the whole COVID thing was a hoax, and there was no need for masks, isolation, etc.
Now, a year later, and with over 500,000 dead in this country alone, most are still wearing masks and doing the same things we were encouraged to do a year ago. This year, though, we have vaccines, and lines to obtain a shot have been long. It is still a time of patience, and we are continually being encouraged to avoid large groups (like churches). Churches learned to hold services online, and ordinary people began to understand how to use Zoom to connect with people at work, church, even family. Still, many continue the practices of the past year, not only to protect themselves but others who might be at risk of sickness or even death.
This week I’ve been aware that life goes on, COVID or not, and that things need doing that require pulling myself out of my house and into the mainstream of life. It requires me to go into places like a doctor’s office and the Division of Motor Vehicles, both of which are usually full of people. The DMV had implemented a new system requiring an appointment (that I had) and got me in and out in twenty minutes instead of the usual forty-five. The doctor’s office wouldn’t give me the bloodwork my doctor had ordered unless I had an appointment with her, so I spent twenty-five minutes in a hallway not twenty feet from the office, waiting for someone inside to answer the phone and make me an appointment for next week. I had accomplished something today but was more than ready to go home. I still have to go out Friday to get my taxes done, next Tuesday for the doctor, and Thursday for my first COVID shot, but at least I feel I have some control over what I can and can’t do – and when.
I’ve begun to realize that so much running around is becoming more like life as it was before the pandemic hit. I also realized that I want to stay home because it is more comfortable for me. I don’t have to wear a mask, and the cats don’t require a six-foot separation (I couldn’t enforce that even if I wanted to!). I can sleep when I want, eat what and when, and I don’t have to sterilize everything I touch or might touch. I have time and space enough to read, knit, think, or write. I shut the front door, and the world stays outside, except for the part of the world I can see through my windows or let into my hermitage through computer or TV.
But what struck me was the feeling that going out gave me. It was normal – ordinary, everyday, and usual. It was as normal as life was a year or so ago, with only a few restrictions more than I had then. It was like taking a step back in time to a maskless society yet forward in time to a more common way of life.
Living in a pandemic time is, in a way, like living in God-time. Staying at home means more time to observe mini-Sabbaths during the week or even during the day. There is time to stop and pray or meditate. There are probably small bits of time when a “Thank you” or “Please bless so-and-so” can bring us into God’s presence. We could also phone or write someone we haven’t seen in a while, just to check in and let them know we are thinking of them. We can spend a moment jotting down things in a journal that occur to us and might want to think about more deeply later on. There will be time to go outside and breathe fresh air and observe the signs of the coming of spring.
Most of all, even with the potential coming of normalcy at some point soon, we can look for periods, not necessarily long ones, where we can sit quietly and talk to (and listen to) God. Hopefully, we’ve discovered those moments in the year we’ve just gone through. Now to find them when life goes back to the way it was. Or maybe the way it should be. Perhaps we can take what we’ve learned during this time of separation from others, how much we depend on God, and how God is with us through everything, good and bad.
With God, there is no social distancing, masking, or sanitizing. We can just be as we are, without fear, through sickness and health, abnormal times, or regular times. Think how grateful we should be when we finally reach “normal” times again. God will be there waiting for us, just as God is now, by our sides, walking with us.
Image: Profile of Time, Salvador Dali, 2008-2012, exhibited on the street near the main entrance to Sky Tower, Wroclaw. Found at Wikimedia Commons.
Linda Ryan is a co-mentor for an Education for Ministry group, an avid reader, Baroque and Renaissance music lover, and retired. She keeps the blog Jericho’s Daughter. She lives with her three cats near Phoenix, Arizona.