Running Out of a Certain Kind of Time

Today I get the second round of the Moderna vaccine. I keep telling myself that tomorrow will be some kind of day off for me, even though I’ll be teaching regardless of how I feel (as we’ll all mostly be online tomorrow because of testing). If you had told me a year ago I’d be getting a vaccine for something that I didn’t think would still be around a year later, I’m not sure what I would’ve told you. Beyond that, Oahu has recently moved to “tier 3,” which allows for larger social gatherings and normal church services as long as families are physically distant.

I mentioned a few days ago that I had gone to the theater to see Crisis. What I didn’t say was that the release of Tom and Jerry meant that there were actually a few families at the movies. Not sure the workers were ready for that, as it seemed like the families were going all-out with food (probably their first time at the movies in a year). A good reminder that even the last few months at the movies have been nice because of how few people were actually there.

But all of that will be changing at some point, with some things sooner rather than later. Which means a certain kind of time is running out. The kind of time where you can more easily take a step back and consider the works of our hands, the routines we have put in place, the practices that we have nurtured over the last year as responses to losing what was “normal.” The critical distance is being chipped away more and more and we get closer to “normal.” One of the frustrations of the last year, of course, is that we’ve had so little time and energy for real reflection: it’s been do, adjust, do again constantly. But maybe it’s not too late to get into some kind of self-reflective mode. Or maybe you’ve already got a feedback loop, internal though it may be, where you’ve been processing things all along.

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Difficult to believe that today is March 1. February has gone out cold, windy, and wet here in Honolulu. It’s the kind of weather I love, really And while it’s not as chilly as it was a month ago, it’s still a nice change from the routine. It’s been over two months since my year-end retreat where I took some time to think through things for 2021. And I’ve done almost none of the things I had set out to do. Almost none. I have been blogging each day, though way too many weeks have been pop media-heavy. I have been on a good, consistent reading tear, though not necessarily of things that I had planned. I haven’t found good ways to use my downtime, though I have had some good television to watch.

But I’m crawling towards something, I suppose. I’m trying not to burn ships or bridges at this point, but I am trying to understand how to move forward without looking back too much (if that makes any sense). School has been a little different this quarter because of rearranging/replacing some large assignments that just were too much for concurrent learning. I grieve that loss even as I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have worked this year in general. But I’m also slowly laying down some foundation for next year, knowing that I’ll likely still be doing double-duty with some things. I’ve got some resources to help me reshape some curriculum. And I’m hoping to grow some courage to push some big picture things in some different directions.

But there’s this sneaking suspicion I have that things aren’t going to get much better than what we experienced this last year. Because things like this last year reveal stuff, emphasize priorities and pre-existing conditions that can easily be overlooked when things are humming along at the speed of normal life. And so the stripped down version of church or of school or even of basic community will likely continue on in it’s Covidtide form, partly because we’re used to it and partly because it was really that way all along. I’d like to think that I’m wrong. But I think it’s as true of me as it is of anyone or anything else. This last year is the social, the spiritual, baseline for things. It’s the comfort zone revealed, I think. And while it’s as good a place to start as any, it’s still a bit of a bummer.

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I still find myself thinking about this piece and this piece, both by Ephraim Radner from early in Covidtide. And a few others of his posted since then. They are good places to start, especially as they are artifacts from an already-different time for us. And because now, even a year later, there are “some questions that remain.”

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