These days I see a lot of REOPEN! signs. These placard-pleas seem to include an implicit hope that we will soon return to “the way it was.” Without abusing anyone’s yearnings for normal life, I’d like to question whether our history is actually heading in that direction. Wondering instead how we might move toward a new normal—actions and attitudes that could be more satisfying than our present-day circumstances.
It’s possible that when COVID-19—and all its cultural effects—has passed, not much of “the way it was” will still be around. That we’ll not want some of the current ways of living to return. For example, do we want to reopen racial discord, anger/hate or disregard for people who are poor? Are we willing to reinsert dislike of immigrants, religious intolerance, spendthrift lifestyles or individualism back into our culture? Do we want anxiety, worry and distrust to be our preferred ways of thinking?
On the other hand, going back might be helpful—if it means reopening ourselves to the ways God has invited or commanded us to live. If it helps us shed selfish and unjust lives, repentance might be good for our souls—and for the nation. When we have come to the end of our self-idolatries, we might be more ready to move forward.
What would that look like? Perhaps “going back” could be reopening ourselves again to a Christ-like way of living and being. Recommitting our spirits to humility, grace, love, forgiveness and obedience. Putting ourselves back into other-directed patterns of behavior. Seeing our lives grounded in God’s purposes.
I’m hoping for a new normal that comes from purging accumulated spiritual rubbish from my life and the national spirit. Not easily done, and probably not something I can do alone.
Ready to re-open with me…?