Did you have a chance for renewal this summer?
I did. My partner Jane and I took a camping vacation and though some of my behavior may have been riskier than what I had gotten used to, I kept my mask on when around others and stayed outdoors almost always. I spent a lot of time hiking in the mountains and staring at rivers. The time in a realm of reality–trees, dirt, rocks–helped heal some of the holes that have gaped in my virtual reality. I discovered beauty I had never seen and revisited favorite spots and routines.
As I returned to Manhattan and our constructed virtual world of Zoom meetings and limited in-person interactions, along with increasing numbers of COVID cases, I’m deeply aware of the things I miss. I miss hanging out at Radina’s or Public Hall, riding my bike to meet someone somewhere, casual interactions that happen before and after planned meetings, running into people I know. I miss standing in the narthex before and after services and receiving handshakes, hugs and snatches of conversation. I miss singing with other people, the sound soaking in so much that I cannot distinguish my own voice from those around me. On those rare occasions I do see someone in person who I have not been with in a while, as we meet and greet from a distance outside, I miss the hug that would usually be there. An elbow bump is no substitute. I miss getting out of the house regularly.
A colleague recently named that we are going through collective trauma. And while some of us may be doing just fine, many feel on the verge of falling apart much of the time.
The effects of our pandemic time may last for years, especially as we look at impact on the economy, on children’s education, and our ways of social interaction. In such a time, what could renewal mean for us, as individuals, and as a not-so-gathered congregation?
Might renewal mean rest to soothe our weary souls?
Might renewal mean recommitment to what is more important in our lives?
Might renewal mean finding the source that sustains us so that we can maintain through this time with integrity, balance, and grace?
Renewal could be a vehicle for us to remember our purpose–individually and collectively–and to reaffirm that commitment. In this time in-between, when so much is uncertain, may we find ourselves certain once again (or for the first time!) of what matters most.See you on Zoom! Jonalu Johnstone