If we were to make a list of all that has changed over the two months, none of us would have any trouble filling a notebook! Everything from our daily schedules to our wardrobes have changed, and in short order.
One change I find especially interesting is how quickly even our vernacular has changed. Words and phrases that were little used or absent from our conversations just months ago are now so commonplace that even my seven year old son is routinely using words like “quarantine”, “shelter-in-place” and “zoom” in his everyday conversations.
Have you noticed that even how we bid one another goodbye has changed? Parting phrases like, “See you later” and “So long” seem to have been replaced with well wishes such as “Stay safe” and “Keep healthy.” I think this shift reflects that even though more physically isolated and separated from one another during this season, in some ways are experiencing a deepening connection to our communities and neighbors. We seem to have a somewhat heightened concern for one another and for the well-being of others, and I pray this long outlasts the virus!
To that end, the phrase I increasingly find myself using to sign off on emails or as I send a socially distanced wave to a neighbor, is “Be well”. I believe it is my current choice for parting salutations for a very simple reason….I’m tired…and because “being” requires so little of me.
According to the dictionary, to “be” simply means “to exist”. In the midst of pain for a hurting world, news-fatigue, at home learning, constant zoom meetings, big decisions, huge learning curves and a vast array of yet unanswered questions, “to exist” is something I feel I have a shot at being able to handle right now. It doesn’t add anything to my to do list, it doesn’t ask anything more of me emotionally, and it doesn’t even take any extra time….just exist….
Something else that strikes me about the word “be” is what often follows it when used as a directive in Scripture. Often when we, as the people of God, are told to “be” anything in the Bible, what follows close behind is the explanation for why we can exist in a reality that is often so antithetical to our natural state of being and so counter to the world around us.
“Be still!” Why? Because the Lord is God. (Psalm 46:10)
“Be not afraid!” Why? Because the Lord is with me. (Isaiah 41:10)
“Be anxious for nothing!” Why? Because through prayer I can present all my burdens and requests to a loving God who promises to replace them with a peace that the world neither understands nor can replicate. (Philippians 4:6-7)
When I wish someone well, I’m referring to much more than their physical health, of course. Mind, body and spirit all play an important part in wellness and many factors work together to that end. I, for example, will absolutely be continuing to wash my hands and practice social distancing. I will continue to take long evening walks to get my daily steps in and will be taking time for prayer and Bible study. I will continue to check in with those I love and give as generously as I am able of my time, talent and finances. I believe this to be good stewardship of what God has entrusted to me and all are important rhythms and practices.
In the end, though, being well will not come down to me having done any of those things. Truly being well requires little more of me than to exist trusting in the promises of a God who has proven himself trustworthy and good. Thank you, Lord!