Well, there is some light at the end of this tunnel. As many of you have likely heard, Governor Lamont is targeting a "soft opening" for certain businesses in the state on May 20th. While the plan is not to open everything back up and have things immediately go back to normal, we should take some comfort in the fact that the process of re-opening is at least beginning.
Now, I want to be clear: this is not guaranteed yet. The Governor has said this will only happen if CT's hospitalization rates continue to fall and we continue to gain access to more testing. However, it does seem likely that at least some things will begin to open back up towards the end of the month. This begs the question: how do we go back to normal?
I've heard people say "I hope we don't go back to normal" so many times over the past few weeks, it's starting to feel like a done-to-death meme. But there's truth in that repetition. However, I am STARVING for normal right now. I can't tell you what I wouldn't give to go to a Hartford Yard Goats game, sit in a coffee shop, or go see that Black Widow that got pushed to November (oof). And guess what? Those things will come back - eventually. But there's another aspect we should be focusing on.
This whole experience has impacted everyday American life in a way only a few events have in the past. Not since 9/11 has an event made life slow down this much, and not since World War II has there been such prolonged change. Nobody is denying that our day-to-day has changed, but what does that mean for when we go back to "the real world?" Are we going to go back to "normal?" Or will things be different?
Short answer, we're not going back to "normal" right away. This is going to be a slow process, and that is good. We have heard repeatedly that rushing back to pre-Corona living too quickly could make this a much longer process in the long run, so starting things off conservatively seems like a good move to keep people safe. That's not something that we can control. What we can control, however, is what we take with us back into the world.
Back during Lent, I would occasionally watch Matthew Kelly's Best Lent Ever videos (short, daily reflection videos). If you haven't checked Matthew out, you should! He's awesome, and has some great insights. The video that stuck out to me the most was one where he talked about being busy. He mentioned how when he asks people how they're doing, they'll often say they're busy. While some people view this as a good thing, Matthew felt differently. In his words, "busy is not your friend."
Our pre-Corona world was SO busy. If you're a young person, I'm sure you've heard your parents and grandparents bemoan the fact that the world is so much busier and quicker than it once was. There's always something to do, always someone to talk to, always a "next move." The thing that was lacking was stillness. Stillness is vitally important in the life of a Catholic, because it is in the stillness that we hear God's voice.
This period of quarantine has given us an overabundance of stillness. I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a bit bored sometimes. The right amount of stillness is somewhere in between quarantine and pre-quarantine. Should we go back to exactly the way things were? No, we should not. Things weren't necessarily going great. But at some point we will start opening up bit by bit, and we'll have to figure out how to re-enter the world.
I'm not here to discuss when it's right to open different types of things back up. I'm not a politician, and I'm certainly not a health expert. I can't tell you when you'll be able to go back to school, or the movies, or even to mass. But I know that it will happen at some point, and that process is starting. You've got a choice to make! Will you go back to "normal?" Or will you go back to something more?
I know it's hard being cooped up. I'm right there with you. I also know it might be scary when things do start to open back up. We need to have faith that God will guide our actions through this storm and that we will come out on the other side, one way or another. I hope you will be intentional about the changes you bring with you out of quarantine, and that we will all be able to celebrate together before too long.
God bless and stay safe,