By Kirsten Nilsen
Feeling edgy? Feeling aimless after over a week of homebound activity? COVID-19 has forced immediate and sudden change in every single person’s life, and change is almost always uncomfortable, even when we’ve prepared
for it. Some have responded to social isolation by rushing to create color-coded charts for the household, some by adopting strict regimes of healthy eating and at-home workouts, some by embracing copious wine and Netflix binges. Friends – all of this is fine. All valid responses, as long as you’re not hoarding toilet paper.
I wonder if, in the midst of this discomfort and anxiety, we might allow ourselves to release the death grip on the brightly colored schedules and the boxed wine, and instead center our minds on the ancient words of the Psalms: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10) It’s a radical call to humans whose lives are so accustomed to constantly-full calendars and frantic 24/7 activity.
Be still, and allow yourself the grace and space to see this tremendous inflection point in our cultural history: life will never be the same, and that is both deeply unsettling and deeply encouraging. Maybe the entire point is that life will never be the same. In Isaiah, God’s voice asserts “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)
Perhaps if nothing else, this sudden quiet in our global consciousness allows us to see a change is possible, instead of constantly being out of time and out of energy. In the stillness that’s followed a quarantine we’re hearing reports of clearer waters, cleaner skies, bird song where before there was none. We’re hearing stories of neighbors helping each other and of strangers offering what they can. The change God brings may ultimately be – at long last – the communal understanding that we belong to each other, locally and globally. Perhaps this is the new thing that springs forth.