Hoping for Normal? Not So Much.

“Hope Up for a Year, I hope…”

Holy Week blog post from Toni Buranen

Holed up for a year, I hope…

That things do NOT return to normal. 

Don’t get me wrong. This has been a very hard year, globally, nationally, locally, personally and I wish the pandemic had not happened. So many people died. So many people lost work. So many more people are struggling financially, facing homelessness and hunger. Even if people didn’t experience a medical or financial toll, so many felt deep isolation and feelings of depression and anxiety increased exponentially. The list goes on. 

Personally, 2020 was the most difficult year I ever experienced as I navigated the most challenging parenting I have had to do thus far. Not hyperbole. I went on an antidepressant and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Seriously. (In the words of Glennon Doyle, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for he gave me Lexapro.” Or Effexor. Same difference.) I confess that I am not a huge fan of “silver lining” speak. It has been hard. Period. But there have been good things. More time with my family is at the top of my list. Netflix has also been a gift and I have enjoyed (!) rewatching The Good Place, M*A*S*H, Modern Family, and Friends among other new shows. Truly. Thank God for creative people! I was able to focus on cooking healthy meals for my family. I also made bagels for the first time – huge success! And the best pizza I have ever made was so simple and delicious. (Both were from NYT Cooking.) My husband’s bread making skills are now high end bakery quality. Yea for carbs! AND we now have a one year old pandemic puppy: a black goldendoodle we named Arlo. He is 55 pounds of stinky and adorable and mischievous and perfect. We call him fur therapy. 

Of course, I want some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy, too. I miss coffee dates, movie nights, going out for sushi with my sweet hubby, restaurants, board games with friends, travel, etc. But among the things I don’t miss: 

The hectic driving life of a mom of three kids living in Northern Virginia. I was in the car. All. The. Freaking. Time. 

Forgetting the importance of self-care. I am still not great at this, but more time in my schedule allows me to choose it more often. 

Wearing professional attire. I am teaching full time from home. I don’t know what I am going to do when I have to dress up again for work. 

Wearing makeup every day. (Love this Glamour interview with Glennon Doyle. For that matter, I highly recommend her book, Untamed!) 

Waking up at 6 a.m. (See comment about returning to work.) Ugh. 

The incredible pollution of our planet. Driving less means better air quality! Our planet is still in trouble, but it was powerful to see the powerful impact of not driving. 

The lack of awareness and the complacency of White culture with regard to racial injustice and privilege. The pandemic gave the U.S. time to absorb what is happening to our Black brothers and sisters and other People of Color. It was and is long overdue. And we need to keep doing the work of recognizing white privilege and working to become actively and unapologetically antiracist. #blacklivesmatter #stopasianhate

There are more things that I hope don’t return to normal. (Although I will have to return to work in person eventually.) Mostly, I hope that we all can center the importance of relationships and people over productivity and things. That we might recognize that we are one human family, in this together. We sink or swim together, and really, we have to help each other swim. I also hope that we may all be vaccinated and healthy and able to gather sooner rather than later with love and in joy. And I hope that Dr. Fauci is made a saint. Kidding. Sort of. 

As St. Augustine of Hippo supposedly said, “We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song!” We live in hope of our continued transformation as an Easter people, more loving, more just, more peaceful. This is the abundant life that Jesus promises us and it is the way that we bring about the “kindom” of God. May we all carry that forward into our post-pandemic future, with or without makeup. 

Toni Buranen is a member of the Religion Faculty at Georgetown Visitation in Washington, D.C.

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