What is the future of our future?

By PASTOR DAVID BOWEN, Standing Stones Community Church Standing Stones Christian Academy

The Summer Olympics have been postponed for a year. The “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disneyland, has been closed since March 14. Recently, the New York Times reported Disney, and its 14 theme parks with an annual attendance of 157 million, does not know when or how it is going to reopen. Disney’s eight studios, which last year controlled 40% of the domestic box office, are also dark and at a standstill. Many primetime television series had to end their season several episodes early.

Professional sports have no clear plan to begin playing, and when they do resume playing games again, will it be in empty stadiums? For the first time over a 2,000-year period, churches were closed for Easter, forced to go to online-only services.

Kids—well, really parents—were forced to make an abrupt switch to homeschool. School graduations, birthday parties and even weddings were forced to be canceled or rescheduled. So, when life does get back to “normal,” what will “normal” look like?

Families will have to continue to adjust. Before anyone had even heard the term coronavirus, statistics were projecting a future increase in multigenerational families, largely due to the high cost of living in major metropolitan areas. With many parks and playgrounds closed, families have been forced to learn how to play around or close to home. Despite facing uncertain circumstances, I have found it encouraging that many adults are expressing how grateful they are to have this family time together. Families are watching movies together and parents are working from home—and working a little less. Board games are being dusted off and family connections are being renewed and strengthened.

The hardest aspect of our new “normal” has been for those who are ill, especially those who had to be hospitalized, because visitors are no longer allowed to sit and add comfort to one’s bedside. In these cases, I have seen friends and neighbors step up and bring meals to concerned family members. I have heard people expressing how they are praying for one another. In this time of isolation, people seem to be coming together. With our lifestyles being forced to slow down, some positive, good things have come out of this shelter-at-home experience.

As restaurants and stores begin to reopen and as people begin to go back to a regular work schedule, and in the fall when kids go back to school, what will our future look like? Will we go back to the fast-paced, too-much-on-our-plates way of life or will we carry some of the habits and routines we have been forced to adopt into our normal day to day? I hope we do. Are we more isolated when we are free to do as we please or when we are forced to stay at home? I would argue that we are far more isolated from neighbors and family when we have a “normal” setting. If this virus has done anything for our culture, I think it has made people more optimistic. I am hearing far more people make comments like “we’ll get through this” and “everything is going to be OK.” This is a welcome change from the common pessimistic, complaining attitude and behavior that snuck into our hearts and life. Maybe we should schedule a time each year to shelter at home and enjoy quality time with our loved ones. Just a thought. Stay safe!