It has been six weeks since the dome fell over the Mississippi College community.
In that time, students, forced to adapt their daily routines of independent college life to the rhythms of home, have done their best to meet the double-edged challenge of completing the remainder of the semester online while maintaining their sanity. In a world shrunk down to include themselves and their immediate relations, students have managed to stay connected with friends and organizations via social media, sharing 30-day song challenges and words of encouragement to get each other through the quarantine blues.
I have found that I can accomplish an in-person work and school day in the span of a few hours. What once took several hours of classes and campus group meetings now takes 10 fingertips and 10 minutes. I am exaggerating, but the point is that I have more free time here than I did at MC. Walking to class down a sidewalk shaded by trees, chatting with friends in a crowded Cups coffeehouse while “writing” a paper for the next class, “studying” for a test with a group in the library moments before midnight⸺all those things take up time, I guess, for better or worse.
To remedy the surplus time I have found on my hands, since public congregation has been temporarily abolished, I have endeavored to solve the world’s problems. I exaggerate again, but I have given some thought to what the future might hold after this new age of social distancing and all things takeout.
I do not think anything will really change. There will still be restaurants and concerts and public beaches, I think, when the dome rises and the world is made right. People will still meet, bros will still bro-hug, and handshakes will endure as they have since Roman times.
Yet, at the same time, we should not be afraid of change. Just as the Black Death gave way to the Italian Renaissance, the present time will give way to something new. You will have to ask me later on what that something new is after I have written the definitive history, but for now you must be content with the following ideas put forth by a handful of my fellow students on what the “new normal” might look like.
Luke Williams, junior: “Hopefully, we are all able to resume normal activities in the fall, but even if life isn’t as planned then as it is now, our God still faithfully reigns.”
Anna Clayton Nagle, senior: “My hope is that people are more careful with spreading different sicknesses and germs. I’m also hoping that people never take physical community and interaction for granted, and spend more intentional time with people as things finally come back to whatever normal may be.”
Bradley Lewis, junior: “I think the new normal will be a continued pursuit of God’s will in our life. Despite this pandemic, God has been on the move in many lives. I think just how God used Christ’s death for our ultimate good, our continued life after our separation will still be for God’s good!”
Isabelle Dean, sophomore: “When COVID-19 social distancing is over, I hope we have a deeper appreciation for one another, our families, and a burning desire to fully live out the calling God has for our lives. I hope and trust that social distancing is teaching all of us not to take a moment for granted and to recognize the brevity and obscurity of life. I think post-COVID-19 will restructure the way we view ‘The Church,’ and give us a better appreciation for the things we often take for granted.”
Parker Brooks, junior: “It’s gonna be weird at first going back to school and not having to stay put all day, but I think we will slowly shift back into life pre-COVID-19 within a few weeks. I think everyone will be more conscious of washing their hands and keeping themselves clean, but people aren’t going to stop shaking hands, holding hands, and giving hugs that contact will resume fairly quickly.”
While nobody knows what the future will look like, these comments have one theme in common: hope. Each hopes that humanity will leave quarantine with a greater sense of worth toward oneself and others, and will embrace life with passion and enthusiasm. Humanity will endure as it has endured, no matter what tomorrow looks like.