My Top 10 list when this is all over

A pair of hands hoving over the keyboard of a laptop
 on June 1, 2020

For years I’ve had a fantasy that the world would shut down and I could just stay at home and read books. For weeks on end. An introvert’s nirvana. Well, the world shut down. But I haven’t done much more than crack the cover of Miriam Toews’ newest novel. Instead, I’m living in a world of constant improvisation, back-to-back Zooming, and (yes) telephone conversations with parishioners and friends. It’s been strange, exhausting, enlivening, hard and full of surprises. What things am I most looking forward to doing when the pandemic is over, asks The Anglican’s faithful editor? Here’s what I’m looking forward to.

  1. Reading. Yes, that’s right. Somehow after another day of Zooming, all I have energy for is to plop myself in front of yet another Netflix series. And so I want to finish Miriam Toews’ novel and begin to attack the backlog on my bedside table.
  2. Getting up early on a Thursday morning. Although I’m the furthest thing there is from being a morning person, one of the weekly routines I look forward to is the 7:15 a.m. mass followed by breakfast (one boiled egg and two and a half pieces of toast) with a faithful band of parishioners, presided over by 98-year-old Professor Blissett, our chief butterer of toast.
  3. Celebrating the liturgy with (more than four other) living, breathing humans. I want to hear the sounds, see the faces and shake the hands.
  4. Commending my dear colleague Father Robert McCord to God’s care with a glorious requiem. Robert died suddenly in March and we are waiting for the time when we can fulfill his wish for a high mass with all the liturgical trimmings.
  5. Visiting a library. “Medicine for the Soul,” said the inscription above the earliest library we know of, from the 1200s BCE. My soul needs some of this medicine.
  6. Getting “just because” exercise. My commute from home to church is roughly ten paces. I’m looking forward to the time when going to meetings and running errands and going to my weekly duplicate bridge game gets me on my feet or on my bike.
  7. Hugging my mom. (And she will tell you I’m not the huggiest person in the world. And she is correct. But still!)
  8. Having lunch with some dear friends. I realize I have taken for granted the simple act of making a lunch date and catching up over a meal. This is a time for fasting from the way in which human beings form and sustain family, friendships and community – with food and drink. (Yes, “Do this,” said Jesus. And so we shall. And in person!)
  9. Sailing. My real “happy place” is a summer property that has been in my family for almost a century. There I sail and read and play board games, and Mary Lou and I and my folks get to re-connect with our two adult daughters. I’m hoping (perhaps against hope – we will see) to get there in August and just “be.”
  10. Discovering what God has been up to in the Church and in my life. I don’t for a moment subscribe to the theology that God has inflicted this pandemic upon the world to teach us something. But I do subscribe to the theology that, through this extraordinary time, God is doing something new. In the Church we are seeing creativity, courage, resilience and lots of curiosity from outside our walls. In my own life, this has been a time of creativity in writing, practicing the organ (something I haven’t done for a few years) and composing music. Things I simply wouldn’t have “got around to” if all of a sudden everything predictable had not been turned on its head.

I have been very fortunate through this pandemic – much more fortunate than most. I have the security of continued employment, comfortable shelter, plenty of food and company and support, and ministry I love. This pandemic has not been the “stay at home and read books” moment I had imagined. But I am thankful, from my admittedly comfortable perch, to be able to reflect on what really is important. Yes, absence does make my heart grow fonder.


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