Summer Blessings Bethlehem!

As the world has continued to open up over the past several weeks I have found my response to it all to be very interesting.  At certain times, I find that I can basically pretend that the past 15 months never happened, and slip right back into “business as usual” without so much as a second thought.  When I catch myself in those moments, I am usually surprised that I don’t feel more awkward or uncomfortable, and I’m amazed at how engrained certain patterns or behaviors can become in the human brain.  But then there are other times, when a “return to normal” feels utterly foreign and I find myself very unsure of how to behave or feel.  And in those moments, I find myself wondering if I’ll ever be able to return to how I was before COVID, and whether or not this is a permanent change.  Interestingly, though, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to which situations feel fine, and which feel odd.  So, I’ve been doing my best to simply notice those feelings as they arise, trying not to label them as “good” or “bad,” but simply as “mine.”  What’s even more confusing is when both happen at the same time, as they did just two weeks ago when we welcomed people into the sanctuary for Sunday worship for the first time in 462 days.  It simultaneously felt so wonderful and normal, but also a little bit overwhelming and stressful.

I would venture a guess that I am not alone in this somewhat disjointed experience of the world.    My hope, as we emerge from the COVID-crisis, is that we be as kind and gracious with one another, and with ourselves, as we possibly can.  To be understanding that everyone will be coming from different places, moving at different paces, and feeling any number of different emotions at any given time.  Some people might be ready to just jump right in, while others will need to ease themselves in step by step.  Some will feel comfortable in certain situations, but like a fish out of water in others.  I especially want to encourage you to be kind to yourself.  To check-in with yourself from time to time; see how you are feeling and what you are comfortable with.  The collective trauma that the past 15 months has affected each and every one of us in different ways.  And what we need most right now, is not to rush blindly back to normalcy, but to be thoughtful and intentional about how we reengage, and kind and gracious with one another as we do so.