The opportunity before us

April 13, 2021 | by Jen Higgins-Newman, BHFH Program Manager

A view of the back of the House, through the flowering branches of our magnolia tree.
Dear Friends, 

If you had told me a year ago that this uncertain time of pandemic would stretch this long, I would not have been able to fathom it. I have heard many others over the last few weeks say the same. 

Now, as we enter seasons of planning what “reopening” might look like, I also find the opposite difficult to fathom. What does it look like to “come back”? The social and logistical questions feel almost overwhelming for me, despite how important they are to figure out. 

I have plane tickets to see my grandmother, who lives in California in an assisted living facility, in September, and it’s hard for me to imagine what that trip will be like. But boy, do I miss her hugs, the way she smiles when she says my name, and the gentle shaking of her hands as she holds mine while telling me a story. 

In the last few weeks, in the middle of larger conversations about logistics, I have found myself drifting off thinking about the small, intimate moments that I look forward to sharing with people I care about. 

I miss stolen glances during meetings — something that cannot happen on Zoom. I miss leaning into the person next to you when you sit down at a large event or during a Quaker meeting for worship, to communicate your excitement to see them. I miss the gentle hand of a friend on my shoulder, letting me know they’d like to talk. 

Of course, there are also things about “the before-times” I do not miss and think we can do without.

I see three opportunities before us as we discern what a post-COVID world looks like that I want to hold: 

First, we have the possibility of maintaining the unexpected gifts we have found during this time — things like making our events and meetings accessible to more people than ever before, including across geographical regions. 

Second, we can remember the moments that matter on a deep, personal and interpersonal level, and make time and space for those moments (like time holding the hand of a loved one). 

Finally, we have the possibility of letting go of the things we can do without (perhaps this is short meetings in person that we require folks to travel to, but could easily be a Zoom meeting?)

For me, the smaller things I am looking forward to are helping me navigate the cloud of seemingly impossible bigger questions.  
In Light and Community,