It’s February. I remember February two years ago. I was offering the Spiritual Exercises in their thirty-day version to a group of seminarians. Most were going off to exercise most days, at a gym not too far from the retreat house. It is impossible in gyms to be on a treadmill or cross trainer without staring at TV screens.
People on the long retreat are usually able to avoid the news intruding on their solitude. Goodlife Fitness probably doesn’t often host people on a silent retreat. One of my retreatants would come back some days and tell me about this illness in China, in a city that I had never heard of. James was convinced that something big was happening. I wasn’t so convinced. I just chuckled.
Well, guess who was recognizing a reality that continues to have a grip on the world two years later! This thing has controlled our lives for almost two years. Its impact has been enormous: health, the economy, working from home, ZOOM, essential workers, supply chains, sports, entertainment, politics, air travel, the type of mask to use, daily worship in churches, nursing home protocols, and so on.
I don’t often read a newspaper, but I cannot think of a section that hasn’t had to deal with COVID. I cannot think of a day when COVID and its variants has not been in the news. It is a fact of daily life. It’s not going away anytime soon. And so long as there are anti-vaxxers and the have-it nations don’t share with needier nations, this thing will keep recurring in new forms.
We are all tired of it. I am tired of it. However, I know that I am warm, safe, housed, triply vaccinated, well-fed, and I have access to healthcare if I am in need. I have had no health concerns. Of course, I also don’t go anywhere. My life is very privileged, even if confined.
I cannot understand anti-vaxxers, or the people who say that they are not anti-vaxxers, but still refuse to get vaccinated. (I had someone who proudly informed me that he refused to get vaccinated. So I told him, just as proudly, that I refused to meet with him in person. Who are these selfish idiots!)
I read a good phrase about COVID in The Economist, published out of London. A recent issue dealt with the new normal that we are living with every single day. Good piece, but I especially appreciated the phrase used to describe our COVID era: predictable unpredictability.
Here’s the opening paragraph:
Is it nearly over? In 2021 people have been yearning for something like stability. Even those who accepted that they would never get their old lives back hoped for a new normal. Yet as 2022 draws near, it is time to face the world’s predictable unpredictability. The pattern for the rest of the 2020s is not the familiar routine of the pre-covid years, but the turmoil and bewilderment of the pandemic era. The new normal is already here.
Welcome to the future!