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Normal?

We hear a lot about the “new normal.”  It’s in the media.  The URC use it to help churches think about how they can be in the near future.  But somehow it doesn’t seem to be sinking in—life will be different.  

It’s not just wearing masks, sitting two metres apart in church, or queuing in shops.  Life is different.  What we saw as normal is gone.  What the future holds is different.  High Streets may be polluted by flats instead of shops.  Churches may further develop virtual technology to connect and include people.  Outdoor cafe culture may become the way of the future.  It seems, however, that cars are still popular!

How we long for the return to the mundane routines.  So today I am doing such an ordinary thing.  I am making a funeral visit.  Now, for the family this is not routine or mundane.  It is, sadly, very significant.  But for me it is the bread and butter of my work.  The visit isn’t virtual or over the phone.  It is in person.  How ordinary and normal—not ‘new normal”—this will be.  I look forward to that.    

It is nice to return to something “normal.”  It was nice to drive to the Brecon Beacons on Sunday.  It was normal.  But there is a large part of me that doesn’t want to live in the past. I want some aspects of life to be different— to care about how I use my spending power and my vehicle and my other resources. 

Maybe the new normal is not about how we spend—though the government in Westminster wants us to spend, spend, spend— but how we use the resources of our time to nurture relationships?  We may be missing church, but a great deal of what we are missing about church is the people—the people who nurture and encourage us.  So what do relationships look like in the new normal?  Which ones do we cherish?  Which ones do we decide we need to be let go?

The “norm” for me is listening to people, understanding what is important to them, reflecting that back in worship and other experiences.  That is why a funeral visit is so important and “normal” to me.  I am looking forward to that “norm.”

Update—well, nothing is indeed “normal.”  There are visits that feel just like “before”, and there are conversations that seem like we live in a new land.  I don’t need to say anything else.  Instead I guess I have to remember all this is new to all of us.  I have to face into the new in the mundane and familiar situations and allow life to unfold without judgement.  Life may feel familiar in some ways and life will be different in some ways.  I just have to allow life to unfold—normal and different—and hope somewhere in it is a spark of love.

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