I never thought that I’d know enough about pandemics to be able to identify a “weird part of a pandemic timeline,” but here we are! And this seems like a weird part of the timeline because we have one big change (the vaccines) with otherwise very little change nationally and globally. So we’re daydreaming about the future but also still living now–what an unprecedented need for the virtue of patience, as we watch and help this new world unfold!
Some of us adults are desperate to stay in our nests, and others of us are desperate to leap out at the soonest possible moment. Similarly, young people are responding to this challenge in a variety of ways. Young children are feeling many things, making the question “Aren’t you excited to go back to school?!” often fall flat. Child Mind Institute recently had a great article about how to support children who are feeling anxious as they go “back” to school: https://childmind.org/article/back-to-school-anxiety-during-covid/
Since it’s Easter, the phrase “back to normal” makes me think of the Resurrection. Jesus certainly was raised and returned to life, but it was a dramatically different kind of life. It was his same body–it bore the scars and wounds to prove it. And yet he looked different to his close friends, not always recognizable. And before he was raised to life, tradition tells us that he descended to the dead, breaking open the gates of Hell and freeing everyone from it for all time. For Jesus–fully human and fully God–this must have been a harrowing journey. And what was it like, after all, to return to life in one’s own body, alone in a tomb? Our stories and songs speed past this transformation, but it happened, and Jesus remembers it, and we have a friend who has truly walked this way before us.
I know many of us are praying that all the wounds we have seen during the pandemic will not be hidden up again; we don’t want to go back to normal, we want a new normal, a different life. No matter what kind of new thing is our normal, it’s certainly going to take a long while to get there–like waking up slowly and trying to figure out where you are. I hope that you will be gentle with yourself as all of this unfolds. We don’t need to pretend to be scar-less or unwounded; we worship a God who bears the marks of nails.