During this time, it is common to hear people say:
I can’t wait until things get back to normal! Or perhaps,
We better adjust to the new normal! Or perhaps,
I think we better get use to the abnormal for awhile!
All of this of course begs the question: What is normal? Is normal whatever we EXPECT to be or EXPECT to HAPPEN?
For the youth of today, their normal includes I-phones, twitter, Instagram, computer games, flat screen tv’s, microwave ovens, fast food, and much more!
Many of us grew up with a phone on the wall with long cord, manual typewriter, tv’s with no remote control (limited channels), and playing outside until dark.
My parents thought walking to school was normal. They did not expect air conditioning at school or in every room of the home. My parents considered the chance to travel through Europe and to Australia and to Alaska — to be a privilege. They NEVER EXPECTED that would be a part of a “normal” life for someone born in the 1920’s.
So, “normal” does not mean static or unchanging. 9/11 created a new normal for all kinds of travel, especially air travel. Those affected by Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita, developed a new normal in 2005 and 2006.
On the morning walks that have been a part of the routine of my “shelter at home” lifestyle, I think of the many things “I” have accomplished and the things I have experienced —things I have at times taken for granted.
Maybe our life-experiences give each of us a little different since of normal. Those who grew up on a farm have a different sense of normal than someone who grew up in the middle of New York City. Growing up in the USA gives us a different sense of normal compared to someone who grew up in Poland or Nigeria.
Some expansions of the normal are seen as GOOD — other changes are questionable.
I would think that most of us have thought or said at least once over these past weeks, “I hope some of the changes we are experiencing, will be part of life into the future.” We will appreciate what we have a little more — we will want less. We have seen the value of shared time, shared life, family time and family life.
Those who have cleaned out closets and attics and garages have wondered aloud, “why have I kept this stuff around for so long.”
We plan more and go less. We sleep more.
AND, SOME OF US realize how many people live from paycheck to paycheck — and one missed paycheck can throw “normal life” off course. When we see news report of long lines of people waiting for food, most of us realize that is not part of our normal.
We have said before, “we are living in uncharted times. We are ‘building a plane while trying to fly it at the same time.'”
Yet in faith, we say there is someone who knew all of us this was going to happen long ago. And, that same someone knows what lies ahead. While we use our brains and science — we also pray to the GOOD SHEPHERD who knows the way and is the way. I want to know what science sees and believes. I want more testing and the development of a vaccine as soon as possible. I also want to know what God has in store for me and for us.
I know who has the answers and who holds the future.
On this 4th Sunday of the Easter Season — the 23rd Psalm is a beautiful prayer to offer and a great song to sing in full voice.
For some folks, this is the dark valley — valley of darkness –depression and anxiety have taken grip and have led to paralyzing fear and worry.
Just saying over and over again, “The Lord is MY Shepherd” — The Lord is my SHEPHERD,” will bring some peace and consolation. Those few words are all the prayer we need. I need not fear anyone or anything.
In the Gospel of John (Chapter 10) we hear … the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow, because they recognize his voice.
At the present time there are many voices out there saying what is right, what is best, this is what needs to be done, etc. Each of us must ultimately decide for him/her self what is right for them or their family.
In quiet, we will hear the voice of the shepherd speaking to our hearts and telling us what is best for us … it will just feel right … we will be comfortable. We might be nervous, but we won’t be afraid or fearful in taking the first step — following the voice/prompting of the Spirit/Shepherd.
First — listen within.
Second — at times, the voice is heard through something someone says — it may seem right to us — or strange to us. In the right or strange — we perceive what is best for us.
Third — the voice could come through something we see — around us — or on the news or in the newspaper — or in the actions of someone at the grocery store. By seeing — we perceive a path for us to follow.
Following the voice of the Shepherd does not guarantee that the path will always be smooth or free of heartache. The path of the Shepherd may call for change or lead us on detoured-route. But, he will shepherd us to the very end.
Maybe one of the lessons we are learning at this time is that we need to enjoy the normal of today — and not worry too much about a new normal. We prepare ourselves best when we prepare ourselves to be ready for whatever is to come.
The Lord is MY SHEPHERD … there is NOTHING I shall want.