“Waiting for Life to get back to normal.”
I heard this phrase recently and it resonated with my feelings—this really captures how I have been feeling. I suspect that I’m not alone in this sentiment. It seems that any semblance of normalcy has retreated far away from my daily experiences. It is difficult to begin to list all that is not “normal”: There’s
–the political divide in our country and
–our leader who cannot be defined nor understood and
–the damages of the hurricanes that have occurred in the last few weeks and
–the mass murders in Las Vegas and
–the fires of northern California and
–the recent deaths of members of UUFSCC and
–the discovery that all my private data (at 2 different institutions) has been hacked and
–the ineffectiveness of our country to respond to the old social injustices and
–the ineffectiveness of our country to respond to the new tragedies and
–the increase in troop deployments in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and
–the large increase in my healthcare costs for next year and
–the people who deny climate change and
–the loud noise my car makes when I turn hard left and
–the tweets on football players kneeling and ….and ….and ……
Some days I just want to get back to normal.
But, what is “normal?”
In the late 80’s, the band REM’s song called “It’s the end of the world as we know it” captured the angst with all that was going down in the world at that time. Yet—if you take a holistic approach—every day is the end of the world as we know it—and every day is the beginning of the world to come.
If you were alive in the late 1960’s, you may initially remember bell bottom pants and hippies and flower power. But if you look at the newspapers and really try to remember what was going on—it was truly the end of the world as we knew it. There were bombs exploding every other day in our cities (by a multitude of angry groups), there were almost 300 American soldiers being killed every week in Vietnam, the air in Los Angeles was so thick you could barely see the sun at noon, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted that it caught fire—twice, our major cities had riots that destroyed the inner city, schools were segregated, you were more than twice as likely to die if you were in an automobile crash (as today), and where I grew up there was a voting poll tax (you had to pay a fee to vote in any election—thereby eliminating any votes by poor minorities).
My parents had a tough time growing up. Both graduated high school at the worst years of the Great Depression. They got by the best they could, married in 1939 just in time for WWII. Their lives were truly a string of events that were the end of the world as they knew it.
Humans are often guilty of remembering the past as better than it actually was. Maybe “normal” is just the way things are right now. Maybe as we are waiting for life to get back to normal, we’re wasting our time—because this is normal. Everything that happened to my parents, to me, and is happening right now is normal. We can fight against the reality of the times we’re living in—or we can make the best of it. We can also work to improve the world in all our actions. Accepting normalcy doesn’t mean being passive.
For me, this is where religious community comes in and where my ministry lives. I’m not alone in thinking these are bizarre, unsettling, and emotionally disturbing times—but when we gather, when we come together on Sunday mornings or weekday meetings, when we talk about our deepest feelings—we gain strength. We gain perspective. We reclaim hope. We remember that we will survive. We decide how to take action to improve the world.
These times are certainly the end of the world as we know it—and this is normal. Don’t pine away waiting for something to return that never existed. For even though this is the end—it is also the beginning. Make your future from your new beginning.
May it be so…………………….Russ