The calendar will tell you that it’s not until June 20, while the temperature gauge will suggest it started weeks ago. But for my money, summer officially begins today as area schools have now limped to the finish of the oddest academic year ever. And there’s some comfort in knowing that, I think. For as tedious as these months of quarantine have been, there’s a new season ahead, which always means there’s a new hope as well.
I completely understand, of course, that we are in no way out of the woods when it comes to this pandemic, and that the coronavirus may even become a lasting part of our lives for many years ahead, at least until an effective vaccine and therapies have been perfected. But as the world around us begins to re-awaken to summer once more, I can’t help but think that this change of seasons may be a particularly meaningful one.
Many churches and other houses of worship such as our own, for instance, are now making plans to re-open in June, albeit with a host of new procedures and policies. Like an ancient Jewish miqvah, or ritual bath which worshipers entered before going to the Temple in Jerusalem, we’re installing some portable handwashing stations in our Gathering Hall, and the rest of our facilities have never been cleaner. And we’re shortening the services a bit to limit some of the exposure for folks, along with rethinking how we do offerings, communion and music. What’s more, we’re encouraging our members who may be more vulnerable to the virus to continue to worship with us at home via YouTube or our website.
But even with these modifications, just opening up the place once more is an encouraging sign that things may indeed be changing in both the culture and the church, if ever so slightly in the eyes of some. It’s a bit like what Albert Camus wrote toward the end of his novel The Plague when, against all expectations, signs begin to emerge of a slight abatement in the darkness. The season was changing, in fact, but not everyone realized it. And Camus explains it this way:
“Plague had imbued some of them with a skepticism so thorough that it was now a second nature; they had become allergic to hope in any form. Thus even when the plague had run its course, they went on living by its standards. They were, in short, behind the times.”
As we finish this strangest of all spring seasons, thus, we’re going to do our best to move into a summer that we hope can be filled with hope. As a part of that, these daily blogs will end for a while, though I’ll still be checking in on a regular basis. (If you want to know when a new piece is up, just subscribe at the bottom of the blog page and you’ll get an email each time.) And while we will continue to respect the power of this pandemic, we’re simply not going to cower in fear of it or even hide in the shadows when we can do otherwise.
After all, it was God who not only “fixed all the boundaries of the earth” but who “made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74.17) Now that summer is here let’s not live behind the times.