Over and over again, I have heard people saying that they “needed a change of scenery” or that the way we were doing life during quarantine “wasn’t sustainable.” While this is true to a certain extent, here in South Carolina, the travel and the unwillingness to wear masks is having devastating effects. Our case numbers are rising, more people are dying, and our medical professionals are being taxed to unnecessary extremes. Other states are asking people who have visited South Carolina, to quarantine for 14 days because the rate of increase is so steep.
All because we “needed” to get out and go somewhere.
Molly Spearman announced this week that if we in South Carolina continue not to wear masks as we go about our business, then there is no way that schools will be able to meet in person in the fall. Quarantine helped to flatten the curve, but it did not make COVID disappear. Our inability to wait and change our practices is having a terrible consequences. We are no longer at the point where this is a disease that impacts “the grandmas.” “Since April 4, data from the agency shows that there has been a 413.9% increase in newly reported COVID-19 cases among the 21-30 age group.”
It is much easier to close our eyes and pretend things are the same as they always have been. It is much easier to cling to things that say, “We go to the beach every summer,” and “our policy has always been,” but this unwillingness to change will indeed harm others.
It is harming others.
The question is will we continue to harm others? Will we finally wrestle with the truth that our actions impact others? Will we finally look at ourselves in the mirror and confront our short-sightedness?
I’ve been thinking a lot about my first students from my first class this May. Been wondering about whether they and their families are in this same position. The never-ending cycle is real and haunts too many people in our society:
But this subsidized housing is all she can afford. Most of Houser’s paycheck goes for things like food, diapers and gas. And she says what look like luxuries are necessities for her. They’re also mostly gifts from family or friends. She says she has a car to get to work, a computer to take online college courses, a cellphone to check up on her son.
But there’s one thing Houser doesn’t have, and that’s a lot of hope for the future.
She says she feels stuck in a never-ending cycle, constantly worried that one financial emergency — like a broken-down car — will send everything tumbling down.
“Poor to me is the fact that I’m working my butt off. I’m trying to go to school. I’m trying to take care of my son, and that’s just not enough,” she says.
It’s been a week since I’ve been to this place that has slowly become a space where I have figured out who I am and what I am supposed to do with these breaths I’ve been given.
Sure, I’ve taken longer leaves of absences from this, but this time it was for a purpose not because of scheduling or overcommitting. I needed some distance as I delved into a weeklong look at Ephesians and processed through a death in our family. There’s an incubation process for deep study and for grief.
I’ve rarely found myself speechless. I have too many words and often have to remind myself to listen before I jump into a conversation with an idea that has sprung into my mind. This week, I felt myself moving from commitment to commitment in a slow molasses movement. My mind was telling me that I needed to remember everything, be everywhere at once, and my body was telling me to power down.
And I just wonder, as a pastor, what do you do in those weeks and days and minutes when life so silences you and brings you to a point of complete and utter standstill and wonder? Do you just stand before your congregation and ask question after question that has flooded your mind over the past week? Do you honestly recount the emotions and feelings you’ve been through or do you when it comes to Saturday night silence those questions?
Silence is a powerful teacher.
It shows us that this life we lead where we think we can predict what comes next can be brought to its foundation and shaken in a way that reverberates in us as small players in its grand scheme.
And maybe that’s exactly what I needed to learn this week.
After a yearlong journey, my formal studies of the Hebrew language end on Monday. It’s crazy for me to think that a year ago, I identified the markings on the classroom board as field goals posts and golf flags. Now, I know them as letters joined together to make words that tell a story of a people and their Creator.
Studying Hebrew honestly hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve put in long hours only to be stumped and puzzled even more. It was frustrating, but it also reminded me that I don’t know everything about the Bible. And that’s an important lesson for every developing minister to learn. If I don’t continue to question and put in long hours studying only to be stumped and puzzled, I might get to the point of thinking I know exactly how life works. I might get to the point of thinking I don’t need a Creator.
It’s always easy to provide these reflections when the journey is coming to a close, but it is very hard for me to maintain that perspective while in the midst of the journey. Luckily, I have a year of Greek ahead of me to help me work on that!
Really inspiring words, from an inspiring teacher:
“I am at the end of my life,” Menasche told USA Today. “I don’t know how much longer I have left, and I just wanted that sense of satisfaction that the time I did have I used well.”
It’s not surprising to find that education is a huge market:
The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.
I’d be wiling to bet that teachers aren’t going to get a cut at all of this.
I’ve been on enough runs that I know a good one within the first couple of steps. I know whether my breathing is labored or whether it feels like my legs are stuck in molasses. When either of these things are off, then I know that the run is going to be one that I just have to make it through rather than one that I enjoy.
But when my legs aren’t heavy and my breathing is syncing with my steps, then I experience a synergistic experience that allows my thoughts to clear and my creative juices to begin to flow.
As I have been going back and forth with other educators via Twitter about the impact of Common Core, I can’t help but wonder if the fall holds more expectations to abide strictly by CCSS, which will weigh down teachers are they try to foster creative curators in their classrooms.
Can CCSS really be a synergistic experience that includes individuality and digital literacy or is it laboring our classroom time with an atmosphere that makes it hard to catch our breath?