A Prayer for 2021

By DeLila Bergan, JD, MA, HEC-C ~
It’s been a long year, hasn’t it?
Many of us were isolated from family members, colleagues, classmates, neighbors, and friends. We lost loved ones to the dangerous virus that threatens us all.
Meanwhile, others spent far too much time at work fighting to save those of us suffering from Covid-19.
Most of us have seen people masked and at a distance. We slowly learned to recognize faces from eyes, foreheads, and pandemic haircuts, and to understand voices muffled by masks and face shields. Elbow bumps were a sorry substitute for hugs. Zoom screens replaced Thanksgiving dinner.
But now, as more and more people are vaccinated in the U.S., we’re not quite so afraid to venture out again — most of us still masked, distanced, and carefully choosing our destinations. But we do occasionally leave the house! This requires rethinking our wardrobe; sweatpants and fuzzy slippers must sometimes be replaced with marginally more formal attire like jeans and sneakers. It is important to remember, out in the real world, people can see more than shoulders and heads.
I pray we emerge from our pandemic cocoons changed individuals, morphed into people who treasure the others reentering our lives. May we remember the losses of friends, family, and neighbors; healthcare workers and first responders.
Let our imposed solitude and isolation reveal to us our common links as human beings and break down our ideological divides. Let us experience wonder, now that we can again be close to other humans, those of all ages, sizes, colors, and religions. Let us appreciate that everyone we meet is someone’s child, parent, lover, or friend. Let us welcome everyone with curiosity and respect.
We should return to the world excited to be there and energized to make our lives count. We must remember the fragility of life and honor the burdens others carry unrevealed to us. By now, we should see there is more that binds us together than holds us apart.
We must find meaning in our time alone and carry what we’ve learned back into the larger world. We have been forced to face our own strengths and weaknesses, and to prioritize what is truly important to us. We have found wells of strength and patience we didn’t know we possessed, and we have uncovered spaces we now know we need the help and love of others to fill.
While we all long for a return to some sort of normal, we shouldn’t simply return to business as usual. We can’t help but be changed by the last year. We’re stronger in some ways and still hurting in others, but our refined selves are ready to move forward.
Let us remember what we have learned for our own lives. Let us be gentle with all the humans emerging from their own cocoons.

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