So many mixed messages are coming at us as the stay-home directive begins to lift. So we ask, “what now?” Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, there have been no easy questions, no simple answers, and the incoming information changes daily. Some are protesting, with good reasons, and they ready to go out. Others, also with sound reasoning, are reluctant to leave their homes.
If you were to ask me, “what now?” I have to answer with what I decided would be my take away from this time of COVID-19. Be deliberate in love. As I watched some people in public places wear masks and others chose not to, I realized I often make choices that affect others without thinking. As we move out of this crisis, I hope to be more intentional about my decisions. I hope to recognize and understand the ripple effect of my choices in my home, my community, and the world in which I live. I want to respect the dignity of those around me better and preserve the unity that will come as a result.
I was recently reminded by a dear and wise person in my life that the experiences I have are not only about me; they are about “we.” Every encounter we have with others is an opportunity to both learn and teach. We have the opportunity and obligation not only to grow but to help each other grow as well.
I am currently reading Isaiah and unpacking some of the correlations between the challenges in that time and the challenges we are currently experiencing. “Set apart to become a blessing to all humanity, the People of God are now coming to the point of inevitable judgment. They are now on the verge of being dispersed into exile in order to emerge, through suffering, capable of deeper forms of learning inaccessible by any other means.” (Foster)
And I ask myself? Have I learned anything?
Will I personally begin to go out or continue to stay home? Yes, to both. I will choose to stay home when I can because this isn’t over, and I want to do my part, not only to stop the spread but to express my respect for those who are in places where the threat is too close for comfort. And, I will go out when I need to because beginning to return to the routine of life is essential to our economy and mental well-being. I also, however, want to move into something better post-COVID-19. In the book of Isaiah, we witness the journey from loss into hope. But, we are not to merely be receivers of that hope, we are to be participants in the creation of hope. We are to be good neighbors, loving each other by choosing to pay attention, and by choosing to both learn and teach more compassion and grace. By this intentional living, we will see the promise of hope realized.
For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. Isaiah 65:17-19
Foster, Richard J., editor. “The People of God in Rebellion.” The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible: New Revised Standard Version with Deuterocanonical Books, HarperSanFrancisco, 2005, p. 976.