An ad promoting a trip to Glacier National Park

My appreciation is deep for those who worked long, hard days at high risk during the pandemic. May you be blessed with rest and peace. This column is for those of us who saw familiar walls for an extended time.

Getting out and about after a year-plus of isolation is exciting. Even mundane errands can bring a sense of pleasure.

But partying (whatever that means) like it’s 2019 will be a challenge. Some aspects of coming out of the pandemic year will require gradual adjustments.

Like shaving. Putting on shoes. Going all day without a nap. Not closing the blinds before complete darkness and pretending its bedtime.

The Atlantic did a good piece on how introverts and extroverts are approaching post-vaccination realities differently. And some of us land somewhere in between.

In my earlier life as a campus minister, I would do personality type inventory testing of student leadership at the beginning of each school year. The goal was to see if we would get some things done or just talk about them.

And just for fun and self-awareness, I would also take the test each time.

Year after year, my “E” (extrovert) moved toward “I” (introvert) until it landed so close to the center that “X” marked the spot. Though I’ve not tested myself in many years now, I’m quite sure it has fully settled in the land of the “I’s.”

For those unfamiliar with such testing, the extrovert and introvert designations aren’t necessarily what we tend to associate with those terms. Being an “I” doesn’t necessarily mean someone is shy or unsociable, or that they have a fear of public speaking, for example.

Rather it may mean someone who finds large public engagements to be draining rather than energizing – and prefers sharing a meal with two, four or perhaps six people with whom they can have meaningful conversations rather than participating in a large social event.

More is not necessarily merrier. And times of seclusion are appreciated in order to reflect and recharge.

Age, I admit, has something to do with this shift, at least for me – as well as the practical need for isolation that comes with being a writer and editor. But this year-plus of working from home and halting a usually busy travel schedule has brought its own realities to bear.

Some of those changes are not likely to disappear with post-vaccination freedom. Along with comfort foods rediscovered, some good habits were formed as well.

For example, the pandemic provided more opportunities for sufficient rest as well as daily exercise. More attention will be given now to retaining those in the days, weeks and months ahead.

That’s not to suggest that I’ve found the right balance yet. Sometimes, watching a nighttime ball game on TV has come to mean waking up occasionally to check the score. Then looking at an app to see how it occurred.

The return to travel is what excites me most about post-pandemic life. I can’t wait to explore more distant and beautiful places with long trails and hours of daylight.

But that sofa, just four feet from the desk in my home study, will surely be missed.

Each of us will need to find our own groove. But few are likely to turn the calendar back to 2019 and re-engage in the exact same lifestyles.

If so, we’ve not used the past year with all of its challenges – yet a slower pace for most – as a laboratory for learning.

Maybe we can treat this transitional time in the same way one goes about spring cleaning or prepares for a move.

Our younger daughter graduated from college during the pandemic and saw her plans to spend a year in France postponed and then canceled. She was fortunate to have a temporary place to live and to work in safe environments while exploring new possibilities.

Many of the items from her college apartment were brought to our house where storage space is limited. And now, with new plans, she is readying herself for graduate school in the fall – in Paris.

So, when she visits our home, there is the ongoing task of sorting those hastily stored items. Well-marked bins and boxes indicate the choices: to retain, discard or give for the benefit of others.

Eventually, the remaining items to be kept will be further divided into “Take” or “Leave.” I have installed some flooring in the attic and anticipate multiple trips up the pull-down ladder.

Perhaps a similar, though less literal, approach might serve us well as we move from an unexpected and unprecedented time into a hopeful and potentially renewed future while not sacrificing the benefits of what we have experienced and learned.

Tossing out those cluttered parts of our lives that caused us to be less loving, less disciplined or less effective is wise. Retaining good and healthy habits – while discarding some bad ones — will serve us and others well as we move into a brave new world.

Sharing more generously is always a life improvement, especially at a time when self-centeredness seems to be in vogue, even, or especially, among the churchgoing crowd.

In fact, following Jesus – if we take seriously what he said and did – is about deciding what to seek, retain and turn loose. Those choices are what make life abundant and meaningful – or not.

Share This