Not Going Back
“How long, O Lord?” – Psalm 13:1 (NRSV)
Every third person asks me when I think we are going back to normal. I quip, “Never.” My neighbor mows his grass, asks me how I am doing, then asks about the return of normal. The UPS man says the same. The mailwoman the same. My daughter and daughters-in-law ask the same.
I don’t mean to be mean. There is so much loss and already lost and not-coming-back stuff – from my regular way of a day, to the subway, to my grocery shopping, to my husband’s birthday party arrangements. Not to mention the way death moved into my apartment and hasn’t really left. “Did you wash your hands?” my intimates ask me when I walk in the door. They don’t say it nicely.
I simply want to be sure everybody understands that things weren’t that terrific in early 2020 or before.
It seemed like every weekend we had another serial killer. The climate was getting hotter and angrier. People actually had to form a movement to affirm, “Black Lives Matter.” DUH. Also “Me too.” DUH. The rich were getting richer and the poor getting poorer.
With the virus, more people see how real racism is. How real it is that women are 80% of essential workers. We knew these things already, but some of us didn’t recognize them. We were dying before Coronavirus, but some of us ignored it.
We don’t need to go back. We need to go forward. Forward to justice, forward to green, and forward to sanity.
Help me get as excited about going forward as about going back. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Francis: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.