02/11/2021 Will We Ever Go Outside Again? – By Pastor Katie

As I sit wrapped in a blanket, my warm tea in front of me and work, I can see the wind blow snow from the rooftop and I can feel that icy cold air from my cocoon of warmth. These last few days have been a typical Minnesota winter ‘cold snap’ and we’ve not been above zero for over 48 hours.

Though the sun is out, true Minnesotans know that is a deceiving sunshine, the cold is still bitter and the wind is what gets you. 

My husband, Jose, is from Chimbote, Peru, where “winter” is like 65 and cloudy on a bad day. His first winter here in Minnesota was tough. I remember the cold snap that year and a beautiful bright day with plenty of sunshine. 

Jose said to me, “look it’s sunny outside, I’m going to go for a walk.” 

To which I, the lifelong Minnesotan, said, “It is colder than it looks, you’ll want to bundle up.” 

He brushed off my advice and headed out the apartment door towards that beautiful sunshine. About three minutes later, he blustered back into our apartment saying “Cold! Cold! Cold!” It turns out, the moment he opened the building door he was hit with a blast of icy wind and quickly retreated back to the (relative) warmth of our apartment. 

The forecast for the weekend is bleak, with windchill predictions in the double digits below zero. Or when the predicted high is a negative number, the desire to go out in the cold is nil, at least in our house. 

Here we are so many years later in the middle of this winter’s cold snap. The forecast for this weekend is suddenly colder and gloomier than previously thought. A few days of cold will be well over a week of bitter cold. 

Of course, it is important to note that we are fortunate, highly privileged, to live in stable housing with reliable heat and plenty of food. So many of our neighbors and siblings do not have the same luxuries. 

These indoor days get long with a three-and-a-half-year-old at home. We did venture out the other day because the water main burst from the cold a couple of houses down, and my little one loves all things trucks and diggers. So, that day we bundled up to watch them work.

Otherwise we’ve been hibernating, desperately wracking our brains from some new creative activity indoors. Between working from home, having my child home from daycare, and now this cold snap—desperation creeps in. 

“Will we ever go outside again?” my mind wonders… 

Then realism sets back in and the answer is a resounding “of course!” The cold won’t last forever, it will warm back up to normal winter temperatures, eventually spring will come and then summer too. 

For a moment though, I wondered if we will ever return to normal, whatever that means. 

This wondering is clearly not solely due to the cold weather, I’ve never thought we’d never return to the outdoors or life as ‘normal’ during a past cold snap. 

So much is wrapped in the challenge of the past eleven months, the ongoing uncertainties with Covid-19 and the complete loss of normalcy with it.

I’d be remiss to add the caveat that the vaccines are so hopeful and it brings me great joy to see so many people I love getting vaccinated. 

Still, I find myself wondering, what is normal anymore? What will normal look like post-pandemic? When will we feel comfortable in public without concerns for distancing or masks? 

Sounds a bit like, will we ever go outside again? The answer is, still, of course. 

Someday, life will resemble the normal we used to know. I just can’t tell you when. 

Some things will be different, I just can’t tell you what. Maybe more of us will continue to work from home; maybe we will adopt using masks in cold and flu season.  

We’ve learned good lessons this year too: many of us were over-scheduled and over-burdened, the extra time has been a gift, and may we find a better balance moving forward. 

We’ve learned hard lesson this year too: life is unpredictable; normal is a façade that we love; we’re all deeply dependent on one another, especially those who keep the world moving while some of us stay home. 

Jesus promises, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Friends, let us cling to that promise, Jesus is with us, right now, in the midst of this time, and will continue to be with us to the very end of the age. 

We will go outside again. Life will find a new normal.
Things will be different. Things will be the same. 

Old things will be let go. New things will come.
Loss will be mourned. Joy will be found. 

Through it all, Jesus will be with us. 

Pastor Katie

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