Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Churches – Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King, March 11, 2021

Devotion for March 11, 2021 from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King:

Monday night, I got an email from the Berkeley school district. Like I have been getting them for months, mostly telling me, that they see us parents and that we will stay in distance learning. I opened it, and couldn’t believe it. There was the announcement I thought would never come. Elementary schools were to reopen for 5 full days starting March 29th! If preferred, parents still have the option of full remote learning as well. I reread the email twice, trying to find the catch. Then, I registered my kids for in-person school, afraid, that this was just a dream and that the option would vanish if I didn’t act quickly. I know, it’s silly. But after a full year of closed school buildings and dreadful Zoom school for my little ones, I just couldn’t think straight anymore. 

I was so overwhelmed, that I didn’t even feel like joyful celebration. Just a huge relief. And a sense that there really is a life after this pandemic shining at the horizon.  

And then, something interesting happened. I started thinking of all the things I will miss once my kids are back in school. Like sleeping in until 8 am and eating breakfast until 8.59 am. Like having lunch together every single day. Like listening to their classes, hearing them chatting with their friends and leaving breakout rooms if they were boring, claiming that “they got kicked out” 😊. Like taking flexible vacation because you can zoom in from everywhere. Suddenly, I started appreciating these daily gifts much more. Now, that I knew, they were going to come to an end soon. 

One year ago, Covid became a reality in our lives here in California. Within a year I went through all the different stages of grief. From denial (I am not afraid at all) to anger which in my case was more of a panic (I need to teach my kids from day one everything they will ever have to learn in the best way possible). Later, it turned into bargaining (If I were my mask everywhere, I can have a bubble. And, oh, I might actually end up teaching my kids nothing else than life skills, because they don’t want me as their teacher. They need me as their mom.). Around November, a depressing phase followed when it hit me that we wouldn’t be able to see family for Christmas. And that there wouldn’t be any in-person school until at least February.  

And then, in the last couple of months, I started feeling a deep sense of acceptance. Noticing that this new normal had really become normal. To wear my mask, to hang out with few friends but on a regular basis. To have a fairly structured week after all. To know what activities are safe and where to do them, like hiking, biking, going to the beach. 

So, when I got the long-awaited email about school reopening, I felt a sense of regret. Not about schools reopening. Also, not about the fact that this pandemic will come to an end in the nearby future. But about my own fairly flat learning curve to adapt to this pandemic. I sometimes think to myself “I wish I could do this over again. Knowing what we know now about Covid, I would be able to make the best out of this crazy year.” Of course, that’s not how life works. Back in March 2020 we didn’t know what we didn’t know. 

Which is how the Israelites must have felt when they finally got to see a glimpse of the promised land. They weren’t there yet, but it was clear that their independent lives in their huge All-Israelites bubble would soon come to an end. Their time when God provided what they needed, yet, so many of them died. Including their leaders Aaron and Moses. Still, there was hope, there was a sense that there was a life after the wilderness waiting for them. A life, they couldn’t really anticipate. A life, they hoped would be perfect. Much better than slavery or the long exodus. And yet, there were voices that wanted to turn around. That wanted to wait just a little longer. Because this life in the wilderness had become their new normal. The only normal they remembered. And it’s scary to leave that behind. Even, if it’s not great. 

In the coming months, this is something we will all have to come to terms with. To slowly adapt to the newest normal, that will hopefully be a better version of the old normal pre Covid. To ponder what new habits and insights we want to keep (meals as a family, yummy bread for communion, comfortable chairs during church) and what we happily leave behind (no parties, no hugs, no theatre, no in-person church). 

Wishing that you all get a glimpse of the future soon! 

Pastor Tia! 

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