You may have heard a child say that when on a trip or you may have said it yourself. I think it’s apropos for the moments we live in.

Are we done with this yet? When the pandemic began, some of us kept asking that question, is this over yet? At first I thought it would be over in two or three months, then months turned into seasons and seasons into years. The rise and fall of this deadly virus created chaos, not only in our community life, but in our inner lives as well. As the community closed down and our favorite places and activities disappeared, our personal lives got jambled as well. As the pandemic dragged on, we missed birthdays, graduations, baby showers, holidays, holy days and trips. Weddings were postponed and Memorial Services held on zoom or not at all. 

Everyone has their own pandemic story. People have lost jobs, homes and very tragically, many have lost loved ones during these past two years. Your story is different than mine. Your story is different than your neighbors’. But as a community, we have collectively experienced grief, anxiety and frustration. None of us is the same as we were two years ago. We are a new people. We have experienced pain, deepened by the inability to cope with it in the ways we are accustomed to.

Grief has been a real part of our collective lives. But so has joy. Have you seen neighbors creating community and taking care of each other? 

People in this community are helping each other each and every day. People have provided food, medical care and comfort to one another, sometimes to people they didn’t know prior to the pandemic. When graduations couldn’t be held in person, some graduates were paraded down the street while neighbors cheered them on and congratulated them! New food give-aways sprang up. People called others, just to see if they were okay. Non-tech people learned zoom so they could stay in touch with family and friends and participate in activities online. Zoom Savvy people helped grandparents or their neighbors figure that stuff out so that they wouldn’t be isolated! People went outside and cheered their thanks to essential workers who were keeping us safe, while putting themselves at risk. A lot of good is happening. Many people are actively developing new, creative ways to spread love in this community.

There are deeply entrenched divisions in this community. I believe our grief, anxiety and loss of traditional coping mechanisms, has increased this separation. Dividing into “camps” gives us something to hold on to when our lives are unpredictable. Our divisions have helped us to cope with the chaos that has infested our lives. 

I think it’s time for a collective deep breath. We’ve been through a lot. Each one of us has been through something different, but none of us is the same as we were in January 2020. We have lived through an extraordinary time. We are different people now. This is a real opportunity. As we emerge from our home as a new and changed person, what will we do? How will we treat people who disagree with us? People walk the streets, with griefs and pains we cannot see. Some of them are not in our “camp”. We get to choose how compassionate we will be. 

Our community has divided itself into us and them. At times we have lost the ability to really hear each other. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can remember how we felt when we were completely isolated, when all we wanted was community. We can do what some of our neighbors have shown us – find new, creative ways to spread love and kindness to our neighbor, no matter which “camp” they’re in.

We are emerging from our homes as changed people. We have a choice. Let’s choose a new way.

Rev Janet McKeithen