In the Meantime,
This past weekend I attended an in-person event at a member’s home. It was harder than I expected. Mind, we are all vaccinated. The risk was almost nil. But seeing a dozen people in one room without masks, sitting close to one another, was disquieting. Even at the office, where we are fewer and vaccinated and farther apart, I stand in doorways rather than entering offices. Maintaining a six foot distance is now automatic and getting closer feels almost aggressive.
Have you felt that way? Others have mentioned similar feelings. Even when safety is not an issue, being close to people in larger numbers feels strange. And it caused me to remember something. When folks who have had too little food for a long time suddenly resume eating as they did they actually get sick. Their bodies, having adapted to privation, are unable to digest abundance.
We have been deprived of human companionship for over a year now. And like those who in their hunger dreamt of banquets, we dream of human abundance. But I suspect that for many a sudden change from near isolation to a crowd would be like being thrown into a mosh pit. The pastor I am wants to make sure we can ‘digest’ all that energy.
That’s the reason I insist that we wait until September to restart in-person worship fully. As a malnourished person must eat deliberately rather than gorge, we must reconnect deliberately. In being together again we start by caring for each other – recognizing that some will dive into the deep end with gusto and others must enter the shallow end; that those who can eat lustily must not insist that others do so, and those who are reluctant appreciate the eagerness of those who are confident. In other words, we must practice that ‘acceptance of one another’ really hard. I suspect that we may not ‘return to normal’ at all but actually create a new togetherness.
Notice I said, ‘may.’ It is not automatic. We saw how quickly politics returned to ‘normal’ after January 6th. But crises are moments when we can deliberately choose who we will be. You can choose to be who we were before, like Congress; or you can choose to be who you could be. – FW –