Skip to main content

Lord Byron and the End of the Pandemic

As humans, we have evolved to be wary of change. In a church, you see this all the time. I like to jokingly remind our leaders that if we change brands of toilet paper, someone is liable to leave the church over it. 

Welp, this year our theme could be the line from one of our hymns: Don't be afraid of some change. Because whether you were afraid or not, change was here. Time to learn Zoom. And Youtube Premiere. And in non-church life, curbside pickup for everything from dinner to craft supplies. 

We changed. We didn't have a choice in the matter. Trust me, if we'd had an actual choice, if the alternative was not literally potential death, we would have held lots of committee meetings, weighed the pros and cons, and decided nope, we were not going to change. 

But we did. And now, slowly I hope, because it's the right and healthy and covenantal thing to do ... we will change again. We'll come back to church. Go back to eating dinner inside a restaurant where people put hot plates in front of us and then whisk them away when they're empty. Realize we're out of that one ingredient and run up to the grocery store to grab it. 

In some ways, we'll go back to what used to be, but in so many other ways, we can't really go back, and shouldn't. We have learned things. We won't just do things because we've always done them that way, whether it's Thanksgiving at Grandmas, or shaking hands with everyone we meet. 

So, again, we are facing change, and doesn't it seem like it's going to take a lot of energy? We may not particularly like our routine now, but after a year, we've gotten it down. It's familiar. And boy, we like familiar. To change now means going back to uncertainty - how will things be different, how will they be the same? We will have to make decisions, choices, again. 

In 1816, Lord George Gordon Byron wrote his poem, "Prisoner of Chillon," telling the real-life story of Fran├žois Bonivard who was imprisoned in the Castle of Chillon for his political activism. Byron imagined himself as Bonivard, telling the tale of despair, and wrote of when men came to set him free: "And thus when they appear'd at last, And all my bonds aside were cast, These heavy walls to me had grown A hermitage—and all my own!"

We have repurposed our homes, making them into offices, daycares, and entertainment venues. We've lived multiple days, never leaving. And we have been shaped by this time. Our relationships have taken on new dimensions through this. In the good moments, it has been a new privilege, to spend so much time with loved ones. In difficult moments, we have learned more about ourselves, and what we need to feel centered and mentally healthy. 

Of course, our feelings right now are complicated. 

Lord Byron ends the narrative poem with: 

My very chains and I grew friends, 
So much a long communion tends 
To make us what we are:—even I 
Regain'd my freedom with a sigh.

We have grown friends with aspects of this lockdown. And it has made us what we now are. 

It's okay to sigh. 


Popular posts from this blog

Whole Church Worship

TL;dr -- Our church does "Whole Church Worship," or "All Ages Are Together for the Whole Service, Every Service, Every Week." I've been getting a lot of questions about this. Here are some answers. Preface: For some reason, I occasionally run into people from other churches who want to explain to me all the reasons this won't work at their church. Sure. I'm not trying to talk you into this. You do you, Bub. Whole Church Worship is working at our church, at this time. Live Oak is pretty special, and I don't know that there are many things we do that would work any other place, including our Chili, Chocolate, and Karaoke Party. But that's a post for another day.  Okay, then. So, I first got involved in Whole Church Worship as a result of a fit of pique - my own. This was before I was a minister. At my home congregation, we had "Children's Chapel," and we had reached the point where we couldn't get anyone signed up to coordin

Post-Pandemic and the Expectations of Others

  We have the hope that the covid-19 pandemic's end is in sight ... and it's bringing up a lot of feelings. Not all of them happy .  Many of us are feeling some level of anticipatory anxiety.  The anxiety is rooted in a fear that almost all of us have, in some form or another. The fear that others will make us do something we don't want to do. Whether it is through what can feel like the aggression of "your job depends on this," or the polite friendliness of social obligations, we pre-emptively worry about being dominated.  Look, the pandemic made saying "No" to in-person events super easy. So easy, in fact, that we didn't even have to say no, because no invitations were forthcoming. We didn't have to send regrets, we were all living in a world where responsible people didn't get together. Heck, those of us who before might feel we were being antisocial could now feel self-righteous! A win/win!  I kid, but only a little.  We anticipate that p

"I Don't Know Who I Am Now" or The Importance of Not Assuming for a While

The next 5 months are probably going to be kinda weird. Uncertainty and anxiety flying all over the place. Duck! And then after that ... it's also going to be kinda weird, but a different kind of weird, as we move into the After Times, and figure out what exactly they're going to be like, and what exactly WE are going to be like.  It is in times like these, that I like to turn to art to help make sense of it all.  I refer, of course, to the art known as the television series Doctor Who. I mean, if we know things are going to be weird, we probably should look at some art that deals with the weird, right? Now's the time to examine Hieronymous Bosch and Marc Chagall. And Doctor Who, that time-traveling, face-shifting hero.  Part of the Doctor Who story (and why it's been able to keep going so long) is that rather than die, the Doctor regenerates, retaining who they are, but with a different face, body, and to a certain extent, a different personality.  Immediately after t