Thursday, April 16, 2020
Don't you love the sentiment displayed in this wall decor? We all want to display this or something similar on our walls these days, because we want this isolation, restriction, and inconvenience in our lives to be over!! Not that we wanted to go any place specific, but we just can't even do the little things that we now know brought us sanity, peace, and joy (good to know, huh?). I looked at myself in the mirror before going to the grocery store. Only a space suit from NASA would have protected me more (the future?). However, we are all kind and smart enough to know the destructive path of this virus might also take us or our loved ones on a journey that would be much worse than the inconvenience of today.
The wall plaque above was a gift to my mother upon her retirement from 30 years of teaching. Some of you can relate. At a certain point, it really becomes attractive to "pass the torch." For some reason, a bit of the fun, joy, and strength just cannot be found to continue on, so we make other choices and do other things. "To everything there is a season." Mom was retired for 30+ years afterward, and she was busier than ever.
These are the days we would love to have "pass." If I heard my Mom say, "This too shall pass" once in my lifetime, she must have said it 1,000 times. It's life....there are some situations, seasons, and extended experiences that are just flat unpleasant. That's just the "long-short-fat-thin" of it! We don't know if we are doing the "right thing" for our health by....going for a walk, ordering carry-out from a restaurant, etc. My pastor said something a couple of weeks ago that meant the world to me. Dr. Steve Wells at South Main Baptist Church quoted Dan Yeary, his late father-in-law, who said: "When you don't know what to do, do what you know, until you know what to do."
That seems to be what we are all doing these days...to the point that we are actually re-inventing church, school, business, social gatherings, and any number of activities that involve other people. We don't get to actually share space with other people, but we can see them. Options for the day: We can grieve...we can whine...we can get angry...we can blame...we can respond to this inconvenience with any number of behaviors. Thankfully, I have several friends who are always looking for the "silver lining." In this experience, it might be a struggle to find it easily. However, to get through this, for the sake of sanity and health, I think we must find it.
Families are actually spending time together, looking eye-to-eye, and continuing to participate in many events together...in their living rooms. Leaders are re-inventing ways of doing things. My husband started using "Zoom" 4-5 years ago, when a seminary where he was teaching went totally online. He held class in the guest bedroom of our home via computer, and those students interacted with him just as if they were within walls together. I never dreamed that I would be "Zooming" one day, but Zoom has been the life-blood of social gatherings in these times of re-invention.
A couple of days ago, I was "Zooming" with Dr. Tom Shelton and his choir at Westminster Choir College as I discussed my 2-Part Playground Tunes with his 3rd and 4th graders in New Jersey. Sooo much fun. They were totally delightful. I was reminded that many, many aspects of who we are as choral musicians are taught by insightful, competent educators like Tom. He was teaching students how to listen, ask questions, and think about the music they are singing. They also sang it at the beginning of the session. I loved it.
So...how do we get through this season of life? Take a look at how our profession has changed already. Anyone "not so secure" with technology has turned over an unimaginable leaf that puts "technology" at the top of the list. It's true. This new direction is not only in the education community, but also in the church. The Sanctuary Choir at South Main just had a virtual choir performance of Handel's "Hallelujah" appear on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (Easter). I just happened to be watching NBC news by chance (I'm a David Muir fan), and was totally freaked out when I saw our church organist Yuri McCoy appear on the screen. It was a miracle! My computer and television somehow had become miraculously linked. Okay...I haven't put in the effort for such, but you can understand why I was totally confused. The point: it was a new way of doing things that was obviously unique enough to get some attention nationally. Notice, I did not say it was an easy way of doing things. It is too new at the moment. Everyone seemed to be stretched in their musical independence and technological abilities. Me? I had given away or discarded three sets of earphones a year ago before I moved to Texas. I had never needed them through THREE iPhones, so why would I ever need them?? Okay...I needed them. So...you won't see me in the virtual choir performance. It appears at the end of the Easter webcast at www.smbc.org.
One of the main things that might be of the greatest value in this isolation: we are discovering the gifts of those around us. Gifts we had no idea existed. Gifts that individuals are not hesitant to use for the "greater good." Maybe...just maybe...it develops a greater respect for those with whom we work...for those with whom we worship...and for those whom we see as leaders. In many situations, I have witnessed amazing leadership such as I have never witnessed before. It has been heartening.
What do we do going forward? We know that we can do this thing called social distancing, because most of us are doing it. We value our lives and those around us enough to sacrifice, because the unknown sounds so darn unpleasant. Until we have a little more clarity about the situation where we are in regard to COVID-19, "If you don't know what to do, do what you know, until you know what to do."
Life may never return to "normal," but in some cases, we must ask ourselves, "Would we really want that?" Outrageous demands that occurred after 9/11 have now become routine. Is it good? Of course! It has been necessary. We have felt safer because of many restrictions. So...we embrace whatever is wise to keep us and our loved ones healthy for the future. Changes in policies, restrictions, and impositions will become routine as well, I suppose.
So...we continue on until those who know more than we know make decisions based on facts from their expertise, experience, and moral regard for humanity.
Until then, we will celebrate the day when we can say: