We hear it all the time. We wonder it ourselves. The question haunts us every day we remain in a state of quarantine and social distancing to prevent the spread and flatten the curve of the Coronavirus pandemic. “When will our lives get back to normal?” As I’ve thought about this question I’ve come to realize something in this Easter season. Just as resurrection life is a new life, not like the life we knew prior to death and new life, so too the new normal after the passing of the Coronavirus pandemic will not be like the normal life we knew prior to its affliction. Martin Luther was known for saying we all experience “little deaths” and “little resurrections” throughout our lives. I believe this Coronavirus has been more than a “little death” in our lives and the lives of billions around the world.
Sure, there will be certain new practices we all must adhere to in the initial re-entry into normal life after the stay-at-home has been lifted. We will likely have to wear face masks for at least the first few months when going out in public where people will be closer than six feet from us (stores, movies, restaurants, etc.). We will continue to carry sanitary wipes with us to wipe down surfaces and objects in places and from people outside our home. There are sure to be others for those of us who begin to re-enter the world from which we have been shut off since mid-March.
There have been other “new” practices and experiences we’ve adopted and had during this time of isolation and distancing as well. In our home I know we’ve cooked more healthy meals and eaten them at the table followed by discussion of our days (and in our case our daughter’s wedding that will be held one year from the day I write this) that can last for at least a half hour after we’ve finished. We’ve started a family trivia night using an internet meeting platform that allows various family members in various locations to all participate in a fun game night. We’ve become more connected to long-time friends. We call our neighbors and talk to those who walk by (and there are a lot more these days) as they get their daily exercise from being cooped up all day. We think about other people more these days. Who might need something from the store when we go? Who might be lonely and need a call? Who are at risk and may need a comforting word on the phone, text message, or a good old fashioned card?
Easter people live in the new normal our Risen Lord calls us into from the baptismal waters of rebirth and renewal. Just as death does not have the last word in our existence neither does this Coronavirus. And just as the risen Jesus was somewhat unrecognizable to the Jesus his disciples had once known, so too, the new normal our post-Coronavirus lives will not be like the normal we once knew before it. But it will be life! It will be new. The question before us as our faith gives up hope in living into this new normal will be what practices and lifestyles we lived during our time of isolation will be “kingdom worthy” of continuing after the ban is lifted? Is it possible that while this pandemic has adversely affected the lives we once knew, could it also be a “God moment” of beginning to live a different kind of life that is worth living even more?
I pray you are all well and being patient rather than being a patient during this time of social distancing and isolation. I pray you have discovered a new way to live that has brought some joy into your world and a world filled with fear and sadness. I pray you may experience the true meaning of the communion of saints and being a member of the body of Christ while we remain together at a distance. May God’s peace be with you this month and always.