by Christine Sine
Like everyone else around me I am struggling to make sense of what the new reality facing us in the coming weeks as we return to work and a semblance of normalcy, could look like. This has not been an easy time for any of us, but in the midst some startling and beautiful facts have emerged.
My daily walks around the neighborhood have been filled with a level of awe and wonder I have never experienced before. Everything is sparkling in the pollution free air as it never has before. And the bird sound is remarkable not just more obvious because of the lack of traffic noise but also, according to an ornithologist friend, louder as the birds are singing more to fill the air with song. God’s glory around us in ways that most of us have never experienced before. One thing that delights me is that people are taking to the earth again too. Plant nurseries and online seed stores are so overwhelmed that many of them have huge backlogs of orders.
I am seeing other remarkable things happen too. This pandemic has revealed the gaping holes in our economic system and the vulnerability of so many who live on the margins of economic viability. Fortunately most people are responding with concern and generosity towards these vulnerable people, making masks for health care workers and others on the front lines, ensuring that the elderly in their neighborhoods know they are there for them if they need groceries or help to get to appointments, providing school lunches for kids, purchasing gift cards and take out meals to help keep local businesses and restaurants from going out of business. So many are showing their willingness to cooperate, share and sacrifice for the wellbeing of all. It is beautiful to see.
I think that COVID-19 has shown us things we didn’t realize we were craving – nature in its crystal-clear purity without pollution; unhurried time with family; new dimensions of care for neighbours near and far; appreciation for health care workers; concern for those who grow and distribute our food and for those other, often undervalued people who keep our lives comfortable – from garbage collectors to shop attendants, and restaurant workers so often living on minimum wages and on the edge of economic security.
A Chance to Reinvent the Future
But what will happen when we get back to work? Will we be back to business as usual or will we stretch for a new normal that seeks to preserve our fragile earth and strives to provide for people over the economy. A recent article in YES magazine stated our options well:
This is an unprecedented opportunity to rethink how our beliefs, values, and institutions shape our relationships. We can create a world that works for everyone or face a future that no longer works for anyone. (From Emergency to Emergence)
It’s true. This is an unprecedented opportunity to reinvent the way our world works but we need to start thinking about it now and not wait until the media tells us to “get the economy going” by returning to the way it was where some enjoyed great privilege and our environment reached crisis point.
What Do We Want the New Normal to Look Like?
The life that sprang from Jesus’ death and resurrection reshaped the world. His disciples were never the same again. It reset their priorities to have a totally new set of values at the center – a set of values where love of God and love of neighbor held center stage.
COVID-19 will probably reshape the world too. We can try to go back to the old normal and let the media hype convince us that the old ways are the best ways, or we can reach for a new normal where we look after each other, are concerned for the vulnerable and relish once more the awe and wonder of the world in which we live.
As I look at the beauty of creation around me and listen in awe to the wonder of the new birdsong I am hearing at the moment, I think “This breathtaking brilliance and glorious song is what I have been missing” and wonder what else of God am I missing because in the old normal I was too hurried, too distracted and too self focused? Am I missing the depths of God’s love for me? Am I missing the extent of God’s care for me and the myriad ways this is connected to God’s care for the rest of humankind and for creation? Am I missing the kind of balance that God wants me to have in my life between work and rest, solitude and community, self-care and care for others? These are all questions that have lodged in my mind in the last couple of weeks.
I feel that COVID-19 has shown us aspects of who God is that have been hidden in the noise and hurry of the world in which we have been living. What can we do to change that?
Watch the video below. Prayerfully consider what you can do to help create a new and beautiful normal like that that the death and resurrection of Jesus created.
What of this period of isolation do you want to maintain – in your life, in your community, in your work situation, in your church?
What of your old life has this reset encouraged you to let go of?
What steps could you take now to reset your life in a new direction where love of God and love for neighbor holds centre stage?