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What is “normal”…in the new year

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What is “normal”…in the new year

by Sarah Piek Ravindranath, Deer Run alumna

Last week, as my husband and I gathered together with our family for a virtual Christmas Eve trivia party, we became painfully aware of just how lonely some of our family members and friends have become. In the first few months of the pandemic, when we weren’t quite sure how long physical isolation would last, many embraced the rare opportunity for solitude. But as the months went by and quarantine mandates persisted, the allure began to fade. In recent weeks it has become more and more apparent the emotional toll that physical distance has taken on some of the most vulnerable and isolated people in our community. It’s no wonder that so many people are thinking, “When will life return to normal?”

And of course, there are plenty of valid reasons to crave what was once normal. For some of us, it is the simple things we took for granted just months ago, like dining out at our favorite restaurant or stopping by our friend’s house unannounced on the way home. For others, it is more grave. The losses of this year – physical, financial, and emotional – can’t help but be met with the sincerest yearning for a return to what once was. Though to varying degrees, our day-to-day lives have been drastically disturbed; our patterns and habits and ways of being are very different than they were just one year ago. Again, we wonder, “When will life return to normal?”

As I have become more in tune with the needs of my most isolated and vulnerable family members, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something peculiar about this question. If I’m sitting here waiting for my version of normalcy to return, what might I be neglecting in the present? What opportunities might this unique, unprecedented moment in time call for that I am failing to see and to act on by fixating on how things should be?

One thing I know is that even while we continue to be physically distant from those we love, we cannot neglect our emotional and spiritual connection to one another. Now more than ever before, both the oldest and youngest among us are craving meaningful connection and the warmth of knowing that someone cares deeply about their well-being. The fact is, though we want life to be normal again, we can’t wait for our normal means of connecting with one another; the circumstances demand that our means of connecting change.

This New Year, as you await with anticipation the return to normal, post-pandemic life, pray and consider who in your life might need connection the most. The past 10 months have been grueling, but we can choose to characterize our daily life with acts of love, kindness, and compassion toward others and even toward ourselves. In this new year, let’s allow these constants, grounded in the constancy of Christ’s own love for us, to be the normalcy we seek in such an abnormal time as this.


Sarah recently returned to her hometown of Puyallup, Washington after 5 years on the East Coast. She studied at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey and then moved to in Baltimore, Maryland where her husband Barnabas is from. After completing two years with Teach for America, she and her husband moved West to be closer to her family. Sarah is teaching high school English and Barnabas is working remotely for Deloitte consulting. She spent two summers as camp pastor at Deer Run (2015 & 2016). She misses lots about camp, but especially hanging out with Jacqueline Cohen on the front lawn! You can find her on Facebook or reach out on email to



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