Of course there was some stress involved, but the school year ended with fairly little fanfare and at a much slower pace than usual. No massive liturgies to plan for hundreds of people, no finals to prepare, no feeling like everything needs to happen right now. I fully understand that this pandemic is causing suffering for many people, but I can’t help but consider the blessings found in the midst of the difficulties.
For a variety of reasons, this school year was difficult in different ways. I found myself stressed and in continual need of a break. Many life-giving things were happening in my life, yet the breaks from school were never long enough, the time to relax never quite rejuvenating enough, my grasp on responsibilities never quite firm enough. After overcoming the initial stress of the transition, I slid into an indefinite period of teaching from home….relieved.
The time gave me the gift of reading a little more, enjoying the comforts of home much more, and the unchosen halt of many ministries. Things I could never say “no” to before (and I don’t generally have a problem saying no), like some work responsibilities, and things I enjoy, like prison ministry, were suddenly over or put on a long pause. While there was a sadness in missing some things, I mostly found the break to be good for me. And as a definite introvert, I was really okay with hours spent alone at home. With nine weeks of teaching from home wrapping up, I can honestly say I never got very sick of being at home. Sometimes staring at a computer screen was painful or the endless assignments that needed grading were unwelcomed. Despite all of that, the pandemic provided the opportunity to come up for a breath of much needed air.
I am hopeful that things will return to some semblance of normal, yet I also find myself wondering how I can pull some of the pandemic stillness into the rest of my life. Obviously, I don’t hope that this will become an annual thing. Nevertheless, the break from the daily grind was a gift to me. As a person who thrives on a slower pace, teaching in several fifty-minute sections to 20-30 people is a bustling life for me. One that I alternately enjoy and yet find to be too much at times. Constant interactions cause me to be quite tired and then I sometimes find myself turning into a bit of a hermit during the summer months as an attempt to recover.
How would it even be possible to incorporate the slower pace into my normal life? How can balance be pursued in the typical week or month? If quiet is needed to restore, how can I live it without continually checking out from the life I am being given? I’m not quite certain, but I have a feeling the answer lies within the mystery of the Holy Family’s life in Nazareth.