Grace in COVID Times
Originally posted 8/24/2020
So this past week was the first week of school. Normally this involves our first division meeting of the year and as the dean this is my welcome to the year meeting. It means I typically give a short little talk in an effort to get people’s heads into the game and ready for the year. These talks are usually short and hopefully a tiny bit inspirational.
Since there was no meeting this semester, we’re primarily online, I had to do a virtual division meeting instead. So my little speech this year was written instead of spoken and I decided to talk about grace. Specifically, the second definition of grace in the dictionary which is defined as courteous goodwill.
The world at this moment in time is effectively living in a pressure cooker. I’m noticing this all over the place. At work, people are being short with each other, answers that generally had some kindness have become strictly business. Well, other than the ubiquitous, “hope you and your family are well.” This phrase has become so ubiquitous that it has become the equivalent of the greeting dear in a letter. But not including it makes you an uncaring monster is some people’s eyes so there you have it.
I see the pressure in my friends who are reacting in a variety of ways from being angry, depressed and/or anxious. I know more than a few people who’ve started counseling since the pandemic began and I get it. I’ve had my moments of aggravation and short-temper as well. I replied to one very long email a couple of weeks ago with a single word, No.
I’ve noticed it in public. I’m seeing far more people in the street dealing with mental illness issues. I’m seeing a lot more tense interactions between people in lines and in stores. Particularly where mask wearing discussions are involved.
We know our students therefore are also dealing with the same types of pressures and stress as the rest of us. So this week I asked my faculty to keep the idea of grace at the front of their mind. To pause, to breathe before they make decisions or respond. To think about the fact that none of us are our best selves right now. That’s what’s meant by courteous goodwill, assume good intentions, give people some extra space, be a little more flexible than you would normally be. This is not a permanent time, no one needs to violate their values, but we can all give a little grace to others, and to ourselves. We all need it, I know I do right now. So extend some grace and have a happier day my friends. ~ Rev Kane