Wow! What a year 2020 has turned out to be. Tornados, windstorms, scattered flooding and of course the pandemic! Those of us alive today have never seen anything like the self-isolation caused by Covid-19.

I imagine most of us have used the time at home to de-clutter and do a lot of home projects that have been on our “to do” list for a while. Shoot, like many of my male friends, I decided not to shave for a while. This worked for about a month, and then the beard and mustache became an aggravation! Of course, we’ve all had to deal with hair issues. From cutting to coloring, it has been a real nuisance.

We’ve experienced so many changes in our daily lives. Another one of those changes is how we gather and meet. Google has been airing a commercial with the tag line “MEETINGS ARE NOT MEETINGS ANYMORE”. This is so true. From office to family, church services to social gatherings, and even entertainment, we have found ways to stay connected even though we cannot be together face to face.

One of the new great connecting tools is ZOOM! A few months ago most of us had never heard of the Internet site ZOOM. Now Zoom has become a part of our everyday life. This Internet connection has become a way for offices, schools and families to stay connected. Without Zoom and the ability to provide a platform for teaching classes, schools would have had a difficult time finishing out the year. It has even been uplifting to see choruses and orchestras use the technology to inspire and entertain us. I saw one high school band director create a video with him playing every part of “Pomp & Circumstance” for graduating seniors. His effort was quite impressive!

Zoom has also changed the way we worship. Churches are taking advantage of the technology to hold Sunday School Classes and even classes for children and youth groups. A few Sunday’s ago there were so many people using zoom that the Internet site crashed for some users.

There are some interesting moments with zoom. Learning how to mute your microphone is one of them. Failure to do so shares every noise in your room with everyone. There are children crying, dogs barking vacuums running, and non-essential chit chat just to name a few of the extraneous noises heard by everyone. You may have heard about arguments taking place before the Supreme Court through Zoom. In the middle of the proceedings, you hear a commode flush!

One media consultant says get used to these online meetings. They are here to stay! But let’s all hope this will never replace being with each other face-to-face!

Being the creative beings that we are, folks are figuring this out especially in neighborhoods. You can find face-to-face gatherings breaking out everywhere. Lawn chairs gathered, favorite beverages in hand, neighbors fellowshipping all six feet apart. I live on a dead end street, and my neighbors have been gathering on a weekly basis late in the afternoon. What a great experience this has become! Suddenly, we are getting to know each other so much better. We are sharing stories about families, work and so much more. In the past, we mostly waved at each other in passing, but we rarely took the time to visit. Suddenly, we’re more than people who live in the brick house with the big dog and two kids. This has been a real blessing of the pandemic!

Another pandemic blessing is watching the neighborhood children play. With school being closed so early, and many of us quarantined at home, we’ve had a chance to really see the children at play. One of the fun activities to watch is sidewalk/street art. The creativity and talent brings a smile to my face. It’s almost like we have gone back in time to a different pace of life.

Who knows what our lives will be like a year from now.

But, in spite of all our new way of doing things, I think we are doing okay. We mourn those lost to the virus, and pray for their families. But, going back to the Google line “meetings are not meetings” anymore, I think Google is right. I believe our meetings and gatherings are different, but I also believe we have a new appreciation for life and each other.

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