Safety Dance: The joys and burdens of community

Guys! I found something we can ALL agree on!! (Crazy, right?)

The summer of 2020 was hard. 

From mid-March to right about now, life has tripped us up the stairs over and over. We didn’t all trip the same way; maybe you lost a summer job, a graduation, or a loved one. Maybe your health, your relationships, your travel plans weren’t as solid as you thought. Or maybe you couldn’t sleep because finances, politics, or racism had upset you too much. Whatever the case may be, we’ve face-planted more in the past five months than we ever expected to. Which leads us to another point:

Hard times are so much worse without face-to-face communication. 

Anyone not vibe with that? Anyone wanna say: “Actually, I like admitting my deepest, most painful struggles over Zoom calls”? “I would rather tell my friend why I’m not okay over text”? “I didn’t even want a hug in the first place”?

Meh. I don’t.

Even joyous times are less splendid when they’re virtual. My roommate and I screenshared Scooby-Doo movies over Microsoft Teams this summer — an extremely fulfilling experience. Let me tell you, though, the experience would’ve been even better in person. You do not have to mock the Scoobiverse 317 times over Teams messages when you’re watching movies together in the same room.

My point? Yeah, technology is cool and all… but it cannot replace in-person community. God created us as embodied beings, and being physically present with one another is one of His good gifts. We were designed to enjoy being together.

Knowing, then, that real-space, real-time gathering is vital to our being… how could we endanger our gatherings by endangering those around us? How could we neglect mask-wearing, distancing, washing our hands? How could we throw away this precious semester, into which Calvin faculty and administration have already put so much effort?

The answer I’m fishing for is: “We can’t.” A more honest answer, though, is: “We kinda really want to.” The distancing will get old; the masks will get uncomfortable. We’ll long to hug friends like we used to, hang out in large groups like we used to, and sit close together like we used to. 

But if we give in, we will shut our school down.

Someday, we’ll get to congregate again. I’m holding on to that. But each time we relax more than our community is ready for, we push that “someday” farther and farther away.

Fellow Knights, I’m begging you. Wear your masks. Distance. And ask your friends to do the same. If you don’t care about getting COVID-19, then do it for the person next to you — for the prof with an immunocompromised spouse, for the senior praying for one more year with her classmates, for the freshman fresh from high school’s disappointing close.

By grace, we have received a chance at genuine, loving, in-person fellowship.

Let’s not ruin that. Please.

In John’s gospel, Jesus commands us to “love one another” as He has loved us. Can we lay down our comfort, our pride, and our impulsive desires for our neighbors this semester?