Dear alumni/ae and friends,
Still? This pandemic is still with us and it grows more challenging each day. If you were like me, I did not think that we would still be dealing with this deadly thing when we first went to remote work conditions back in March. However, as the spring and summer wore on, it became clear that I would need to adjust my energies for something that would be more a marathon than a sprint. This adjustment did not come easily, and I have worried about our faculty, staff, and students as well as our alums and friends as the year has unfolded. And now that we have a longer break between semesters and our students are still in finals, I realize that I am missing what I remember as normal. However, I have begun to wonder if I’m making that “normal” up in a yearning for not having to worry about wearing a mask or being concerned if others or I show signs of a cold that will turn deadly or going out to breakfast (or lunch or dinner) and the list goes on.
These holiday seasons, I find myself struggling to find peace in the midst of a world that has changed because of a virus that looks like a ball with thumb tacks stuck all over it. I am beginning to suspect that I am looking in the wrong places for normal. That is, I want to find normal in the ways that I used to be able to find it instead of looking for it in the different ways—the very different ways that are available to me now. So, in looking around I am realizing that walking our unruly dog has its own meditative arc. I’m learning to recognize people by their eyes—which means I really have to look at them—because all of the other body markers are thrown off by the mask. Enjoying Zoom meetings because I get to see colleagues I no longer see in person and realize that I miss them, the staff, and the students and allow myself to grieve that kind of contact but even the Brady Bunch boxes are welcoming when missing folk you care about. I’m still learning—still.
Emilie M. Townes
Dean and Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society