If you have driven through tunnels in Boston or New York City, you may wonder sometimes if you will ever see the light of day. I have been there. I commuted to Boston for two years and I know traffic. You can either get wrapped up in the craziness that surrounds you or you can look ahead and see if the cars are moving.
The pandemic has been that way for many of us over the past year. Some people monitored the news for the daily number of COVID-19 cases in their state and its positivity rate; they got caught up in the craziness of what was happening around them. Others looked at the latest vaccine developments and COVID-19 treatments, speculating on when they would bring an end to shutdowns and offer a vision of hope.
Recently, Pew research, a nonpartisan fact tank, completed a study that determined three out of 10 people reported having a stronger personal faith because of the pandemic. Thirty-five percent of Americans also say that there is a lesson to be learned from God in this pandemic. What does this mean?
Julianne Stanz, the keynote speaker at this year’s Diocesan Women’s Conference, reminded participants of the Gospel story of the Woman at the Well. Julianne used the well as an analogy for who each of us is. She reminded us that we can look down into the well and see only darkness and be a person who is hopeless and caught up in negativity. We also can look up from the well and see the light and the potential that people are coming back to God.
Will more people return to our churches post-pandemic? That depends, in part, on how those of us who are already there do in encouraging them to come back. Our community members will return to our churches if we invite them to come back, welcome them home, and be there for them in the midst of their turmoil with an ear to listen without judging.
Yes, there may be some crazy traffic in our lives as well as in the lives of our parishioners. We need to be the ones to see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is the love of Jesus Christ. Jesus is always looking to have a relationship with us through His love and we should do the same with those who return to the church; welcome them home with love.