The question already on everyone’s mind is “When will the pandemic end and when will life return to normal”?
Even if the pandemic ends by June or July I don’t think life will return to “normal.” Time and our lives roll onward and it is one of the delightful delusions of mankind that we can continue with a status quo –something we consider “normal”. In fact life never stands still. Even when we think we have everything just as we want it, when we’ve got everything under control, when we’re worked it all out….still life is dynamic. Even then things change, and therefore the idea that life will return to some sort of pre-pandemic normal is wishful thinking.
The pandemic has changed everything. Some of the results will be unpleasant and dangerous. Some may actually be good for all of us–in the same way that taking a bitter medicine is good for us or taking extra exercise does us good.
What will life be like post pandemic? First of all, I think we all know that we will be in the midst of a deep recession if not a depression. Times will be hard. The easy affluence many of us enjoyed will be over. The retirement incomes we looked forward to may not be there. One hopes that the majority of Americans will not become seriously ill, and that in time enough people will have contracted the virus with no symptoms or light symptoms that immunity will build up and people can get back to work, but many jobs may be missing and businesses may have gone under. Either way we are in for some difficult days economically.
However, I am more interested in the psychological and spiritual effects of the pandemic. What this disease must to is sober us up. I expect, at least for a short time, Americans will be more aware of their health and more aware of the shortness of life. Perhaps more people will start taking care of themselves physically. I hope more people will be alert and open their hearts and minds spiritually. They say there are no atheists in foxholes. I expect, when facing the chance of serious illness and death the voices of the atheists will fall silent. With this added seriousness I wonder whether some of the silly, absurd and downright wickedly foolish things we had been up to will wither away and die. I’m thinking of all the “alternative sexuality” the crybaby bullies, the faux victims and shallow ideologies that were floating around like scum in a pond. Those ideas and ideologies were a luxury–part of the vomit thrown up by on overly indulgent culture.
Maybe with a new seriousness and new austerity we will be able to focus on the most important things in life. I would love to see us pay more attention to what is local–to look again at our own families, our parishes, schools and communities and invest our time, money and resources with the people closest to us. With increased austerity maybe we will stay home a bit more and realize that we don’t actually need to get on a jet and fly away to some exotic location to have a wonderful time. Maybe we will learn to take on new project and learn new skills rather than settling for cheap entertainment 24-7.
Most of all, maybe we will give more time to prayer, worship and spending time with God. Maybe facing illness and death will bring us face to face with the need to pray more. Sadly, it is only when we have out of our own strength and resources that we turn to God.
Now would seem to be the time.