Paving the Way for A New Normal

As the closure of the First Unitarian Church building continues and as planned “openings” in many places around the country are being rolled back or rescheduled, we increasingly realize that where we are is our “normal,” for now.

We know, of course, especially during this transitional time for you as a congregation, that change is inevitable. Not to change is not to be alive. And yet, we need to plan, even knowing that plans can—and sometimes must—change. Rather than being buffeted by the winds of change, it can be helpful to be intentional about the changes we make to respond to changing realities.

We recognize that whatever the “new normal” looks like, it won’t be the same as the “old normal.” Too many things around us have changed, and we are individually and collectively changed. How will we be intentional about the changes we make as we move forward?

I am intrigued by the revolutionary possibilities of this variation on the serenity prayer, attributed to Angela Davis, 1960s radical now retired from her academic career:

“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”

Like any prayer, this prayer is aspirational. It broadens the possibilities of what actually can be changed; raises hopes beyond resignation.

As a society, we are realizing that we can not—and will not—accept racism or abuse. How will we continue to change the things we cannot accept? How will we take part in creating a new reality of true justice and equity in our society?

We are constrained by the realities of pandemic and the need to physically distance from each other. We recognize that as a society, we have some control over how we will allow the pandemic to spread and can do our part to limit our own and others’ exposure. We remain “socially connected”—and can continually find new ways to connect with each other from a distance.

For the foreseeable future—even after opening the church building for in-person worship services, whenever that happens—live-streamed Sunday morning worship services are planned to continue. For a while—however long that “while” lasts, group gatherings will continue to be “virtual.” We continue to learn how to do these things more effectively.

Even as we live in this ever-changing reality of “normal, for now,” how will we help to shape the “new normal” that we are living into?