Goodbye and Good Riddance?
My son Kevin is – stop me if I’ve told you this before – an in-patient addiction counselor at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul. St. Joe’s has been in the news a lot lately as its corporate management has been dismantling it as a full-service hospital and will (or will not) eventually turn it into a specialized health services facility. The ER department is being shut down as I write this.
In the meantime, St. Joe’s continues to care for the psychiatric health and substance abuse population while it serves as St. Paul’s primary destination for hospitalized COVID 19 cases. As such, Kevin qualifies as a front-line health care provider and was absolutely giddy last week when told that he would be among the first in the state to receive a COVID 19 vaccination.
My son wears his politics on his sleeve and when I asked him why the needle for the vaccination seems a bit bigger than usual, he said, so all the “government mind control and tracking devices” will have room to flow into one’s system. He is kidding, of course, and his sarcasm is indicative of the real shame here: a lot of folks are believing this garbage. Needless to say, Kevin is anxious to receive his second vaccination next week.
Next week is also the first week of a new year, and I sense that most of us are anxiously awaiting its arrival, not so much to say Hello to a new year but to say Goodbye and Good Riddance to the old one. There is little need here to recount all the negatives – including but certainly not limited to the coronavirus – about 2020, a year that has been named by many as the worst year in our lives. Yes, there has been huge loss, unimaginable hardship and anguish. But, as we leave the season of Advent behind us, I submit that there may be some Good News lingering there that we must embrace.
Advent is of course the season of waiting and watching for the Light to shine. It is the season of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. And I like to think that there are more than enough folks in this world, this country, this community, who truly believe this, and their (our) belief is fueling our optimism for the new year and what it will bring.
That said, I also believe it would do us well to seriously consider the many good things that have come out of 2020. You could be pleasantly surprised at what you discover. Here are a few possibilities that may help you to find the silver lining in the dark cloud that has been 2020 for so many of us.
- While church buildings have been temporarily shuttered, our experience in alternative forms of gathering and worship offer us even greater opportunities in teaching, learning, and staying connected when we can resume gathering.
- During our personal time of quarantine and/or isolation, we have found new outlets for our talents and creativity, and we have learned how to take time to rest and refresh our own spirits.
- We have relearned some old but comforting ways to maintain and strengthen friendships – using the telephone, sending Christmas cards and gift packages, donating time, talent and treasure to neighbors in need and those on the margins.
And I trust that when it is our turn in 2021, we will all step up to receive the COVID 19 vaccine, and encourage others to help overcome distrust, skepticism, and most of all the coronavirus itself by doing likewise.
Have a safe, blessed week!