I have put so many letters together to send to you in my head, but none have made it to paper until now. I have seen so much on Facebook these days — people trying to keep everyone home safe, entertained, challenged to keep their minds active, and so much more. I watch the news and see stories of people who have spent not days but weeks in the hospital trying to get over this coronavirus.
There seems to be no end in sight, with lots of hygiene suggestions and videos. I liked the one that compared a raccoon to the virus — obsessed with cleaning our hands and we all wear masks — the word “corona” having all the same letters in it as the word “raccoon”. Does this not make complete sense? Well, being quarantined for over a month will do that to a person.
But those are just muses, distractions from what each of us face daily.
What are we facing? The potential of getting sick, so sick we could die from it — and even if we do not die, we could have lasting long-term effects we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives. We have had to determine the best way to get food, how to exercise without a gym to help us, or even if it is safe to get takeout food because we are tired of cooking. We have been facing a new way of life. This new normal is not even close to normal.
My church meets via Facebook Live every Sunday morning. I miss the church, but I have learned how to project the video to my TV so I can see my pastor on a 50-inch screen versus the 4.5 inches on my cell phone screen. My last church staff meeting was via Facebook Messenger, and it’s not really the same.
I have learned to work from home. As an office manager, it is hard to work from home. The first week or so, it was as if I was on vacation because no one from work called with a problem. I missed it. It will be 10 weeks tomorrow that I have been restricted in my abilities to do my job.
I worked a lot of Saturdays by myself to get all the accounting done, but I have made it work. I have sought my doctor’s advice. I can now work around 20 hours per week, preferably when the office is slow, and I must wear a mask if I exit my office. No one can enter my office without letting me put my mask back on. This new normal is anything but normal.
I have had friends go to the store for me, so that I didn’t have to. I have used the early morning, senior hours to get my groceries. I have found that my favorite time to go is on Sunday morning — the slowest morning of the week. I love it. I have learned how to go only one direction up and down the aisles at the store and to keep six feet away from everyone if possible. Yet this new normal is anything but normal.
A positive thing I have been doing is listening to LOTS of music. I have music playing while I work from home. I have music playing while I do dishes and clean the house. I am listening to it now as I write this — and what song comes on just now? “It Is Well With My Soul.” God’s timing is something. God does find the most amazing ways to remind us of the Creator’s presence.
But it is not well with my soul. My soul is disappointed in those that make everything about themselves and go out without masks.
My soul is disappointed that people are hoarding food and supplies others need.
My soul is disappointed that too many have lost their jobs and that financial support is slow getting to them.
My soul is disappointed that Jesus’ love doesn’t seem to be winning out over all the evil in this world.
As I have written about different issues around my being gay and surviving society’s pressures in order to stay true to myself, this new normal seems even more difficult and complex.
I have not done it well. Let’s face it: It took me 40 years and the death of our mother before I figured out I was gay. How long will this “new normal” take for me?
Ah, but there is help and hope: 1 Corinthians 13 — the “love” chapter. Can I share it here with you bro?
It starts with: Eloquence in speech without love makes you a windbag. But the part of the chapter that caught my attention, my heart, tonight was verses 8-10 (from The Message translation):
8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
I think the apostle Paul is trying to encourage us through these words. Paul is trying to show a light in a dark place.
Like now, with this disease which haunts us daily. This virus, it will run its course, and sadly many will die — but there is a light on the other side, a light in the darkness:
- where the medical field will advance their research treatment skills
- where new job skills will and have been learned
- where social interaction will take new avenues, but still happen
- where everyone will accept people right where they are.
And again, as I write, God continues to sing to me and gave me a song which is the perfect finish to this letter. After this is all over, we will all have memories of all that happened. We will have hearts to heal. But as Carly Peace’s song “Every little Thing” says, we will remember …
Every little thing
I remember every little thing
The high, the hurt, the shine, the sting
Of every little thing
May this disease teach the younger generation that the new normal is not all that normal, but that there remains the need for kindness, love, and faith. There is a better tomorrow always around the corner if we just show our love and compassion toward each other.
Love you kid.
The longtime Vicar of Education for Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, Alyce Keener (she/her) has felt a twofold calling from an early age toward teaching and toward God. Her religious education started in earnest at her first vacation Bible school, which spurred the realization at a very young age of how important God and Jesus were in her life. She began to pray daily and later began studying the Bible in earnest in college, where she became involved with the Navigators, later taking classes at Moody Bible Institute. Born in Ohio, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Illinois, and was active in local churches, serving on a missions committee, helping develop a church library, leading educational programs and directing a young adults program.