I’ve always been a journal writer. Somewhere between complex fiction writing and fast-paced news writing I find a place for the mundane; fleeting, sometimes in-cohesive thoughts captured between the pages of my journal. Naturally, it is between the pages of this journal that I look back at this school year no one could have seen coming.
On Monday, August 19, I wrote that a woman at my church prayed over me. She held my hands as worship music washed over my worries for the year to come, and when the service concluded, the lights turned on, and members began to leave, she whispered, “I prayed big things for you this school year, honey.”
Looking back, it would be easy to say that her prayer fell through. A virus wiped through the globe, cancelled school, and locked every American in their house.
Not necessarily the kind of “big things” one prays for.
But even in the midst of the chaos, beyond the virus and the stress of junior year, there too has been light.
From getting my license, to making new friends, to saying yes to new adventures and making more memories, the virus has not stolen everything. We still had eight months of “normal school.” We still had eight months traditional memories, typical learning, and cafeteria lunches.
Then, the virus happened.
It’s easy to point to the bad. It’s easy to complain about how we haven’t seen our friends in weeks, how prom was cancelled, and how our expectations of how the 2019-2020 school year did not materialize. Believe me, I’ve complained about each and every one of these more times than I care to admit.
But eventually we have to decide. We have to decide if we’re going to wallow in the darkness or cling to the light.
Looking back on this school year, I want to remember not how the virus “ruined” my junior year but instead how it enriched it.
In many of my journal entries dating back even to freshman year I compare the routine of my life to a carousel I can’t seem to get off of: “I wake up a six a.m., I go to school, I go to work, I come home, I do homework, I go to sleep. Then I wake up and do it all over again.” It’s a carousel that just keeps spinning without ever stopping to let me off.
The virus, it all its darkness, death, and fear, provided this light; this ticket off the carousel. Suddenly everything stopped spinning. My alarm started to ring at 8 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. School only lasts a few hours. Work is closed.
No longer was I sleep deprived, barely making it through the days, weighed down by my to-do list. Instead, I was blissfully bored. My mom might argue I go too much sleep than was good for me. I was reading books again and playing board games with my family.
The virus brought and continues to bring death. The virus brings unemployment. The virus brings fear and isolation.
But the virus also stilled the monotonous “carousel” of life for every student, teacher, and American if only for a few weeks, to rewire their hearts with what matters most: human connection.
This school year might not have been what that woman at my church prayed for when she spoke of “big things” to come, but we have to believe that bigger things will come from this year, the year of COVID-19.