So, everybody's talking about the new normal after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions. All well and good. Even so, many are trying to get a handle on normal, that which is supposed to be altered in the post-pandemic world. It's really not a strange or alien concept, the idea of normal. The people over in the language department define normal, when used as a noun, as the usual, average, or typical state or condition of something. You know, like the old concept of normal working hours, or normal temperatures, or normal education courses. As an adjective it may be more conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected quality, like behavior, or income, or house pricing. We are used to normal health qualifiers---temperature, hemoglobin A1c, heart rate, weight and height categories, and even age spans. Normal isn't a foreign concept.
Of course, we love our word games and many have used normal as a life status. In this regard it seems prejudiced and biased, a life definition which abnormal people have somehow missed. So, defining normal people, families, careers, education, religion, life-styles, and other distinctions is off-limits today. To conclude that the normal is superior to others is out-of-bounds. Penalty time. Who among us is privileged to judge the normalcy of one system over another. You know, anything goes here.
And, that's the deal about normal. In it's broadest concept, normal defines the patterns, routines, habits, rituals, and cycles that mark our days. In this concept, there are really 330,000,000 normals among the American population. Sure, in that size control group there are similarities and many likenesses. We do live in families, clans, and factions that share many life components, schedules, and calendars. Even in those groupings, there's an individual touch that gives each of us distinction about what is normal. In that context, new normal is adjustments that each of us must make as a result of what is happening to all of us.
One of my favorite Bible characters is Solomon. His writings---Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon---give us his unique view of life in their various stages. His late life reflections in Ecclesiastes are especially refreshing, though odd at first. His view of normal those generations ago gives me pause. He wrote---
All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done
is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it
is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
Ecclesiastes 1: 8-10, ESV
Yes, I know Ecclesiastes is Solomon's review of life as meaningless, everything being classified as vanity. I also know he was writing such a dismal view as life lived without God. The wisest and richest man who every lived knew that his wisdom and wealth meant little in a world without the glorious and Sovereign guidance of his heavenly Father.
It is also true that many moderns exist in that same negative, pessimistic outlook of what is normal. He said it..."nothing new under the sun". For many of us existence is repetitive days of running in circles. Still, the new normal after Covid-19 will mean some changes in all of our normals, whatever they are. For some there will be more weariness, more same ol', same ol'. For all of us there will be change. Still, this pandemic may have actually taught us a few things, and the new normal will be lessons learned and applied to what defined us previously.
Earlier in his life Solomon provided great counsel for his sons. He wrote---
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all
your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3: 5-6, ESV
What is normal? It depends on who you ask. But the new normal will be change, and God will guide us through it if we trust him and not ourselves.
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