Chris and I went to a wedding this past Friday. This is the first ceremony of its kind I’ve attended since the Coronavirus took hold of things in March. I felt I had to attend this since it was the nuptials of our niece. I have multiple chronic health conditions; therefore, I’ve been hesitant about going to any kind of social gathering. This was our niece and I didn’t want to be a disappointment to anyone. It was made clear when the invitation was extended that there would be no more than twenty people at the ceremony, and that there would be abundant room for social distancing. With that assurance, how could I choose not to go. The ceremony was shown over some social media platform, so anyone who wanted to see it could.
When we arrived at the church parking lot, we immediately noticed that there weren’t very many cars. The church was a large building, indicating that the sanctuary must have been capable of accommodating several hundred individuals. As we approached the front entrance, we noticed decorations in the foyer in the colors we had been told would be the thematic colors of the event. It did seem somehow strange to see decorations, a guest sign-in book and no people. This was the first time I had been in a church in almost four months. Normally, whenever I enter my local congregation’s house of worship, there are people everywhere, greeting each other and slowly meandering into the sanctuary for the weekly service, the mid-week Bible study or whatever event taking place. A desolate sanctuary in a church…strange to say the least.
Instead of going directly into the sanctuary, we decided to checkout an area adjacent to the foyer. There, we found our niece’s brother, who had come into town from Atlanta. He was there to give our niece away. Her mother died almost three years ago from kidney disease, and her dad is a resident in a nursing facility, battling the effects of Alzheimer’s. It seemed somehow unfair that she wouldn’t have either of them present at a time when she was making a commitment that would change the course of the rest of her life.
I hadn’t seen my nephew in quite some time. There was a bit of time before the ceremony began, so we talked a bit. Our conversation consisted of the normal topics to facilitate catching up on things. Out of all that he said to me, the thing that resonated the most was him saying, “We’re all getting used to the new normal.” My immediate response to him was, “What’s new about it?” Psychologist normally say that it takes about ninety days to change a habit. I know we can have debate about whether the habit is new. I prefer to think that if it’s part of your normal way of doing things, it’s set in stone. Whether it’s new or not is immaterial. Chris and I have been attending virtual church, sitting in on virtual meetings, wearing masks when we go to the store, and practicing social distancing for almost four months now. This stuff has become habitual. We’ve been doing it for longer than ninety days. New normal or not?
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.