What will the new normal be like?
One year ago this week, March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. I remember watching news on a spreading virus in December and wondering what might happen and the various possibilities.
Today I read a very hopeful headline, “Alaska opens vaccines to residents 16 and older.” We are first state in the union to lower the vaccine age limit to 16.
A year ago a declaration of pandemic, today vaccines for (nearly) everyone! My, what a year! In between that declaration and today many, many events have occurred. Many people from all walks of life have died, far more have tested positive and endured. Schools and businesses shut down or scaled way back.
Our very language has changed. Commonplace terms today were rarely used a year ago. Coronavirus, social distancing, COVID-19, mask up, isolation, mandatory quarantine, super spreader events, asymptomatic, pandemic, community spread, transmission, flattening the curve, PPE and many more.
It feels like we have been in a COVID storm for a very long time.
It is beginning to feel like we are getting through the storm and the sun is starting to shine again.
People are saying that soon we will be able to go back to normal.
I do not know what normal will be like after this past year. We have been through a lot as a community, state, nation and world. It has been normal to see masks everywhere and to shelter in place. It has been normal for us to work, worship and learn from home via Zoom and other online programs. We have lost people to COVID, suicide and many other causes. We have grieved together, while remaining alone.
Oddly enough, this experience makes me think of the disciples some 2,000 plus years ago. Excitement abounded about the long-promised Messiah. One stood out among many as one who did miracles and spoke truth with authority. In the end he upset both civil and religious authorities. In the end he was captured, he was tried and convicted (if you can call it that) and he was publicly executed on a hill upon a cross for all to see.
I wonder if it seemed as though the world had stopped when Jesus died. The miracles, teaching and hope all ended as he was taken to the cross, to his cross.
Like many tragic events through history, there was no miraculous rescue, there was no saving grace. Jesus died. As cold and hard as that is to read, it was that simple. He was alive and then he was killed. Like many we have lost through the years, we lost the messiah. Things were returned to normal. A few days later normal was transformed and lives were changed forever when he rose again.
I do not know what a new normal may look like for our community, state, nation and the world. I do not. But I do know that God is full of surprises and completely unexpected outcomes.
We will get through this COVID storm and we will be different for what we have endured and for what awaits us. We will get through this as Jesus speaks peace once again in the midst of storms.
The Rev. Stephen K. Reed, Pastor, St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall; chaplain: police & fire.
This Insight Article is sponsored by Tanana Valley Christian Conference
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Faith Section on March 12, 2021
Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting