by Tom Sine
JOIN THE PANDEMIC PARTNERS
In our last post, we invited you to join those who believe this summer may be the beginning of a new normal; to join those seeking to be a difference and make a difference. Remember President Biden suggested the immunization program is going so well that many of us may get a taste of the new normal on July 4th!
However, there are a surprising number of people that are not waiting for the new normal. They are taking the initiative to start creating it right now. For example, I introduced you to Pastor Morgan Schmidt who activated members in her Presbyterian Church in Bend, Oregon to not just wait at home and wait for the pandemic to pass.
Morgan said, “I never thought I would say this, but we’re using Facebook to express love to our neighbors in really meaningful ways.” Morgan added, “one of our first requests… was a gentleman who just said, ‘I’m immuno-compromised. I don’t want to go Safeway. Can I have someone run in and grab my groceries and put them in my trunk?” Pandemic Partners not only responded to this request. Others prepared meals for neighbors.
Reportedly, Pandemic Partner groups are showing up all over the US enabling many communities to begin the journey to a new normal by recovering an old neighborliness.
JOIN THE PANDEMIC PALS
More recently, the New York Times wrote about people on the east coast who are becoming “Pandemic Pals” as they, too, are on a journey back to a new normal. For example, Judy Fien received a call from Serga Nadler, a neighbor in her apartment building that she only knew slightly. Judy asked if she, “would like to go for a walk?”. Judy was surprised but delighted. They started sharing meals in an outdoor space. Both retired, they learned each other’s stories and in a real way became “pandemic pals.”
“Neighbors are proving to be a salvation for some, according to a study by Improvenet, an online company that helps homeowners manage remodeling projects. Nearly 70 percent of the survey’s 2,500 respondents from around the country said they had gotten to know their neighbors better during the pandemic and 25 percent reported frequently socializing with their neighbors. Meanwhile, 57 percent said neighbors have, at times, filled the void left by relatives and friends.”
JOIN THE PANDEMIC PURPOSED PALS
In KEEP SHARP: Build a Better Brain at Any Age, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is a Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine, insists that simply finding ways to be better pals is not enough as we move into our senior years. He urges us as we age to embrace a more compelling sense of purpose for our lives. He also strongly discourages early retirement because too often people not only lose their sense of their reason for being, They also often also spend the aging process including causing early dementia
Dr. Gupta states, “There is power to maintaining a sense of purpose by continuing to learn, discover and complete complex tasks. A sense of purpose means that you see your life as having meaning, a sense of direction and goals to live for its active aging.” (Simon and Shuster, 2021, p. 116)
It is essential that all of us, including those of us who are seniors, become active PURPOSE-FOCUSED PALS to enable all of us to work together to create a healthy and sustainable new normal for all generations, in all nations and God’s good creation.
I want to introduce you to some PANDEMIC PURPOSED PALS that we can all join to create a welcome new normal together. “Some older adults are rejecting lives of leisure – on purpose” is the title of an article that invites baby boomers to discover how discovering a purpose focused “third act” for their own lives and the larger society. “The most important thing about older adults is they’re not done yet,” says Larry Samuel, author of Age Friendly Consulting.
Larry states, “If the first act is about mostly education and youthful exuberance, and the second act mostly about career and family, the third act is about wisdom, self-actualization and leaving some kind of legacy.”
Mr. Marshall worked for Boeing and his wife, Ms. Marshall, had a map making business. They decided to retire early and get “ready to ride into the sunset.” However, it did not take them long to discover that that had little sense of meaning. Ms. Marshal discovered she needed a new sense of purpose for her life in retirement. “The search for meaningful activity underscores many third acts.”
“That question of legacy looms large for many older adults. At 91, however, Bostonian Sylvia Anthony isn’t thinking in those terms. She’s too busy preparing for a refresher course in real estate after renewing a lapsed license. She wants to funnel the proceeds from that job into Sylvia’s Haven that she founded in 1957.” She reports the pandemic has not stopped her yet.
For Sylvia and many of the rest of oldies, there can be no more satisfying ways to spend our third act than finding ways to make a difference by joining others, society and our churches, as we work together to create a new normal that brings justice to our poorest neighbors and restores God’s good creation in this time of environmental crisis.
Couldn’t our churches, that often have more members journeying into their “third act”, enable them to create new ways to live on purpose? Couldn’t our churches enable them to create more purpose-focused lives? Couldn’t we empower them to be a difference in this troubled time of transition? Can’t we enable all followers of Jesus to imagine new ways to be a difference and make a difference that reflects the compassion of Christ? Wouldn’t that be an important role for our churches to play as we slowly migrate out of this horrid pandemic into a future of promise for our struggling world and generation next?
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