Have you stopped at any point during the pandemic to take note – and perhaps even photos – of the deserted streets? Maybe you noticed that you were the only person on the entire bus during rush hour. Or maybe you noticed the gradually shuttered businesses. Maybe you noticed the empty schoolyards and office buildings.
The extent to which you took notice of the dramatic emptiness is likely to correspond to the extent to which you are likely to revel in the return to life. After all, there was never a “new normal”, but only something very abnormal.
I have thought for some time that reuniting with friends (and heck, even with strangers) after the pandemic will feel a bit like a foretaste of the resurrection of the dead. After all, if anything can help our imagination of the phenomenon, it seems to me to be this experience of acute absence, separation, and isolation that will next be countered with intense presence, reunion, and togetherness.
Today I was in my hometown revelling in the return to life of people, businesses, worship, and optimism. As I walked through Prince’s Island Park, down Stephen’s Avenue, and along 17th Avenue, I marvelled at people – real human beings with flesh and bones associating with only the occassionally mediating plexiglass divider along the patios.
Today, in my hometown, I also visited the cathedral and, unexpectedly, saw three people who were great a surprise to see. Seeing these people who were so pivotal in my early life all in one place and after all these years also felt like a foretaste of the resurrection of the dead. There was something timeless about it.
The resurrection of the dead, an essential belief in Judaism and Christianity, is full of mystery. Still, I like to think we can enjoy intimations of it in everyday life, and perhaps particularly in the return to life from lockdowns and travel restrictions.