As we go through this pandemic together, yet separate, I find one phrase that has entered our lexicon annoys and angers me. That phrase is, “this is the new normal”.
I prayed on it and asked myself why this bothered me so much. It’s such a small thing in the face of this pandemic. Then I read an article in the NY Times by Chris Adrian, “How to Hope: Lessons from a Children’s Hospital” and I instantly knew.
I was transported to my time of volunteering in children’s hospice. There is nothing normal about a child having a rare form of cancer. There is nothing normal about that child going into palliative care. There is nothing normal about the parents washing their hands for two minutes before entering the child’s room. Nor is it normal to don a face mask or disinfect every toy or gift. It becomes the norm as the family and child hold on to their last moments together on this Earth, but it is not normal. To call it so diminishes the pain and suffering, the ever-present grief and yet shining throughout, the glimmer of hope.
We are a nation, a global people grieving our loss of normal the most profound of which is the loss of human touch and gathering. While some of the hygiene and disinfecting practices may become routine, they are not normal. While we may grow accustomed to staying six feet away or wearing masks, it is not normal.
We do not have to wait for this to pass before we start healing. Healing starts when we recognize the grief and call out to God for help. As a Christian and woman of faith, hope is normal. That bears repeating: Hope. Is. Normal. Christians hold on to that Light Eternal no matter how dark the circumstances. As Richard Evans puts it, “Hope…it is often in the darkest skies we see the brightest stars.”
And aren’t we surrounded by stars? Shining examples of what it means to give and sacrifice.
Hope dictates that this pandemic and all it entails is not the new normal. That this too shall pass. That we’ll see a tomorrow where we gather as a family of faith and join hands again. There will be lessons learned and changes as a result, but we will get back to hugging one another.