On Being Here Before

Since the calendar turned to 2024, there’s been conversation and recognition that things feel strange…not just because it’s another leap year. The same two teams were in the Super Bowl as four years ago. That’s not the only parallel. It appears right now that the same two people are somehow going to be running against each other for the presidential election in November. The re-appearance of masks is jarring. I walked into the grocery store last week to empty shelves. All of these factors combine to create a twilight zone ambience.

We’ve been here before.

We spent Spring Break with our younger three children in Spartanburg where my partner and I met and fell in love. We showed them the chapel where we were married, stood on the steps where the family picture was taken after the wedding and even drove by the school where we met teaching. They both asked, “Have we been here before?”

“No,” we answered. “But you wouldn’t be here if dad and I hadn’t been here before.”

Deja vu borrowed from the French “already seen” is something that calls our attention to remembering. Have I been to this restaurant before or is the food just similar to something I’ve tasted before? Have I met this person before or is this just someone who reminds me of someone I have met before? There is a tingling of the familiar in these experiences that stop us in our tracks.

Four years after a pandemic, life has resumed in all of its hustle. Perhaps these deja vu moments are exactly what we need. We need these reminders of where we have been so that we can think and choose thoughtfully about where we want to go. What do we want life to look like? What have we learned, valued, and brought to life in the past four years? What did the fear and uncertainty of living so close to death teach us about how we want to live?

In our busy, over-stimulated existence this feeling of being here before is an much-needed interruption. Perhaps it is even the Divine whispering to our subconscious and indeed our souls, “Stop. Look. Pay attention.” May we not rush past these moments. May we offer our deep gratitude that yes in many ways we have been here before and we are still here together.