This Sunday looks a lot different than any before in our corner of the world, even last week. Normally, at this time on Sunday afternoon, just as many of us are returning home from church, the gym, or visiting friends or family, we start to feel the weight the upcoming workweek pressing on our shoulders, reminding us to pick up snacks to pack in lunches, throw in a load of dress shirts and sports uniforms, fill up the tank with gas, read messages from teachers to get the spirit days straight, and make final adjustments to whatever lessons or presentations we might have prepped for work. In usual circumstances, maybe we would toss a coin to determine whether we should take care of such things first, or go out to play with the kids for a while, before facing reality. Either way, yet another Monday morning would be looming.
This week, in the midst of an unprecedented worldwide quarantine, wherein we have ceased all activities that separate one day from the next, we actually have to remind each other on social media that - if we are lucky enough to be able to do our jobs online - today is Sunday and we should definitely show up for work tomorrow. The grocery stores are madhouses and we don’t need gas in the car because we are not allowed to leave our property. Not only that, but families, children, and teachers everywhere are bracing for the start of online learning, which to many is an entirely unexpected and uninvited guest at the dinner table.
How are we going to do this? Truth be told, I’m a cyber teacher, and I love working with kids online (and in-person), but I am shivering in my boots a bit, too, and biting my nails about working with my own children. I’ll take your kids over mine any day of the week! (Okay, I’m kidding, take it easy - I love my children.) Really, though, whether it’s online learning, teaching, work, church, science labs, music classes - we are fearful about what we don’t know, how it will impact what is familiar and comfortable, and the changes that we will have to make to our routines.
Good news, friends! We have reached the moment in time when all of the bad things that have ever happened to us in life are going to prove their worth. If there is anything we should have learned by now on this crazy cosmic speck, it is to avoid becoming too comfortable, because that’s usually when these unwelcome guests blow through the door, like Jim Carrey in The Mask, “Somebody stop me!” Only, there is no stopping them. They come in, wreak havoc, and leave.
When they leave, though, we tend to find ourselves a little stronger and more resilient, more prepared for the next time they drop by, no matter how much bigger they might have grown.
When I was twelve years old I started losing my hearing, and each time I took a hearing test, I bounded down the audiogram in leaps and jumps, less like a graceful, delicate ballerina, and more like a sneezing hippopotamus on skis. Nobody in my family was deaf, none of my friends were deaf, and I was a musician, to boot. Life as I knew it was turned upside-down, and I had to choose whether to resist the loss or to embrace it by learning a new approach to everything I wanted to do. I chose the latter, and to quote Robert Frost, very briefly, since I can never remember full quotes, “...That has made all the difference.”
Nothing we experience right now will be the same, at least while we are quarantined, and possibly, in certain situations, ever again. For now, work won’t be the same, church won’t be the same, school won’t be the same, and playdates and birthday parties won’t be the same as we have excitedly anticipated, but if we choose to embrace the moment - as unmanageable as it may seem - the experience will love us back with gifts of faith, strength, perspective, joy, and possibly a few other surprises, as well.
So, again we ask, how are we going to do this? We are going to look back at everything we’ve already survived, recall the times we’ve had to change gears suddenly, and decide whether to slam on the brakes or roll with it for what is bound to be a wild ride, graced with some unexpectedly beautiful, new views.
(Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash)