This past week, I was speaking with a colleague who is the principal of a theological school. Like so many, she is working from home. She described how, in the beginning, she was very disciplined about setting up her workspace each morning, and then at day’s end, packing it all up, and returning her "office" to "home." But now, she lamented, her coffee table is chaos: it is a mash-up of essays, a computer, knitting, Lego, and pizza crusts. Keeping her discipline going has just been too hard.
M. got me thinking. There is a sense in which all of us have crossed over from "adventure" to "endurance." Of course, one needs to be careful with this characterization, because for many, many people, COVID-19 has never been anything but a hardship, circling their wellbeing like the black dogs of depression. Nothing adventurous about it.
But for many others among us, this pandemic began as not much more than an inconvenience we were prepared to accommodate for a few weeks. Now, however, as the weeks stretch into a month, and two months, and possibly more, the shine of temporariness has worn off. While we will certainly maintain our resolve to do what our public health officials ask of us, we may be finding ourselves increasingly fed up, discombobulated, or unmotivated to keep up our healthy practices.
It’s not unlike the third week of Lent, or 4/7ths of the way into a weight loss program. Or what I have described as the transition from adventure to endurance.
As Christians, as people who are committed to the "long haul," we know about endurance. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says "suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us…" Perhaps for the first time in my life, I think I know what Paul means.
I hope you do, too.