We are living through a crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has brought physical, emotional and economic suffering. No one knows what the future holds. It may well include greater hardships and more …
Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to the News + Record – you can do so by clicking here.
We are living through a crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has brought physical, emotional and economic suffering. No one knows what the future holds. It may well include greater hardships and more tragedies. We do not even know if the end is in sight.
So, on the one hand, I get it that we want to return to “normal.”
But don’t use the phrase “new normal.” I think we can do much better.
Throughout history, people of different religious faiths and philosophies have abided by the same principal: we trust where we are going by remembering where we have been. But we should not make an idol of the past. We should be open to the great possibility of the future.
The congregation I serve, Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church, was chartered in 2009. Granted, we have not met in our sanctuary since mid-March and, yes, it is painful that we cannot gather for worship in the foreseeable future. But a few years ago, our sanctuary wasn’t even built! What was “normal” a decade ago is far short of what we had come to expect in 2019.
Please understand that I do not wish to diminish or dismiss the tragedies that have occurred as a result of COVID-19.
It is true, however, that there are signs of new life all around us. Blue skies are now seen over Los Angeles and Beijing for the first time in decades. Birdsong can once again be heard in Manhattan and New Delhi. Rivers and oceans are running clearer and cleaner. And not only are people connecting to the natural world, but we are also reconnecting to one another. The irony of social distancing is that the separation has caused many people to pick up a phone and called extended family members and neighbors just to check-in. Several local nonprofits have joined together to create the Chatham Solidarity Fund to raise money in support of people in need, particularly immigrants.
Immigration, of course, is a so-called hot button issue. It’s no secret that our country’s recent history has been tense and divisive. Whereas “normal” just a few months ago would have included bitter partisan politics, today the vast majority of people recognize the sacrifice necessary to care for the common good and are overwhelmingly supportive of our essential employees, especially our heroic healthcare workers.
Thinking of heroes, perhaps you know the story of the Apollo 13 lunar module. As the oxygen tank failed, there was the terrible possibility that the spaceship would not return safely to earth. Gene Kranz, the lead flight director, overheard fellow NASA employees lamenting that this could be the worst disaster in the organization’s history. But Kranz responded:
“With all due respect, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.”
We are living through a crisis. Yet we also have an incredible opportunity. Let’s rocket past normal. Let’s be extraordinary.