The Covid-19 pandemic has changed just about everything. Media coverage keeps reminding us how much our daily lives have changed since the middle of March. It is stunning how much changed and how quickly. Overnight all of our routines and typical ways of doing things and being together evaporated. Now that we have had about a month of this drastic new way, I have begun to shift my focus from what is different about the here and now to wondering about how we might be changed going forward. What will we take as the lessons from this pandemic? How might it change the way we see our neighbors locally and globally? Will we change our approach to travel, our worldview about our fragility, our sense of how interconnected and interdependent we are? The possibilities for new awareness and a stronger sense of human community are high. Will we take it, or revert to our pre-pandemic ways?
One of the things that I have come to appreciate about this time is the way I have come to know my home in a new way. Not wanting to walk in the most popular areas or the most traversed trails, our young son and I have taken to walking in neighborhoods we have never or rarely visited before. What wonderful discoveries are everywhere, especially in the midst of this glorious spring. Almost every day we come across chalk art that encourages us to keep our spirits up. One sidewalk proclaimed, “Welcome to kindness walk.” It told us the rules were to smile, be kind, and not be negative. Another home had written in chalk on a garage door, “And the world came together as the people stayed apart.” Our daily walks have been affirmations of connection and the importance of simple gestures of kindness. Crossing the street to avoid closeness with a smile and a “take care of yourself”. I feel more aware of my surroundings and all the people I pass in a heightened way. Can I hold on to this sense that this place and these people are integral to my own well being? I find that my ability to feel connected has grown stronger, in spite of the space between us. I have been in touch with friends I only connect with infrequently much more often. Can we maintain a sense of connection across distance once we can gather again—after all, physical proximity doesn’t inevitably guarantee connection?
A colleague recently shared a poem by Laura Kelly Fanucci entitled, When This is Over, which ends, “…When this ends, may we find that we have become more like the people we wanted to be...we were called to be....we hoped to be and may we stay that way...better for each other because of the worst.”
I find the hope that we will “stay that way” the most poignant. As hard as this time has been (and there have been many of causes for grief—big and small), it has offered insights and gifts as well. Can we hold onto what both the grief (deaths, loss of sense of control, changes to plans) and the gifts this time have offered when it is all over? Will we be changed in a lasting way, or just for these fleeting months of physical distancing? May we make the most of this time. May we figure out what that most might look like and mean for each of us so that we are the better for it. Together.
Rev. Shana Lynngood is co-minister of First Unitarian Church of Victoria.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spirtually Speaking, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, April 25th 2020