Get Back in the Game
By NANCY PATRICK
I love my lifestyle as a homebody. I prefer to stay home rather than get out and about with other people. As a matter of fact, the COVID pandemic gave me the perfect excuse to avoid church, shopping, visiting friends and family, and volunteering in the community. I didn’t have to offer excuses or reasons for my unavailability.
Now that restrictions have relaxed and organizations try to resume their former activities, many people find it hard to come out of hibernation. Since I belong to that club of isolationists, I know I cannot chastise others too much, but I would like to voice some concerns I have about our hesitation to resume our former lives.
I belong to two organizations that represent a large part of Abilene’s population. These organizations, Abilene Association of Congregations and Abilene Interfaith Council, represent some of Abilene’s core values of religion, spirituality, care, generosity, and humanitarian community efforts. These groups have begun meeting in person again.
The Abilene Association of Congregations (AAC) meets monthly, alternating among local member churches who agree to host the meeting. Christian congregations comprise the ACC, but the members include most denominations in Abilene: Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Church of Christ, Baptist, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, and just about any other Christian denomination who wants to participate.
The monthly programs offer lunch and feature a short devotional by the host pastor, followed by a guest speaker who represents his or her organization. Programs vary from learning about the importance of census registration to the need for community effort in providing accommodations for families whose relatives are in Abilene for hospital care. The programs limit themselves to an hour so people who have to return to work can attend the meetings.
The other organization I belong to is Abilene Interfaith Council (AIC). Unlike the AAC, the AIC’s goal seeks members of any and all religious faiths. Because Abilene’s tradition is Christian, we sometimes forget that people of different world faiths also share our community. The AIC offers a place to learn about these other faiths and meet followers of those faiths.
During the seven years I’ve participated in this organization, I have learned so much about religions other than the Christian faith. In the Christian faith, we learn that Christians have various doctrines and traditions, creating denominations. Imagine the expansion of that concept when you add religions from other parts of the world.
I have learned about Islam, Baha’i, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Native American faiths. As far as I know, the AIC has not denied membership to any faith that has expressed interest in joining.
Now, I come to the point of this essay. I fear that too many people continue to hibernate after COVID. I do realize that COVID has not left us, but I also recognize the need to return to a semblance of normalcy.
Since in-person meetings have resumed for the AIC and the AAC, our attendance has been sparse. Whereas we once had 20 to 30 attendees, we now have as few as 10. As a homebody myself, I share the temptation to stay home in my sweats. I enjoyed streaming church services for over a year while I sat at home, drinking coffee and wearing pajamas.
Now, I make myself get up on Sunday, dress, and go to the church service. As comfortable as it may be to slouch at home, that comfort can lead to laziness and isolation. You cannot live in fellowship with others when you stream services rather than associate with people.
I see a real need for people to get up and get back into the game. The small attendance at one of my recent meetings embarrassed me. We had a wonderful speaker who founded the Houses for Healing ministry in Abilene.
He had spent time and effort to prepare an interesting program. He maintained excitement and enthusiasm during his entire presentation in spite of the small number of people listening.
We need to physically come together again. Community is important. Yes, it takes effort and selflessness to maintain friendships, participate as a member of a group, and attend functions. Wherever our interests lie (sports, volunteering, music, social ministry, book clubs, or morning coffee with friends), we need to get back into the game of life. If we don’t put forth the effort, we lose an important part of ourselves—the part that connects us to each other.
Nancy Patrick is a retired teacher who lives in Abilene and enjoys writing
Very good article on the importance of getting back to “normal” whatever that is for each individual. Personally, I went back to church as soon as they allowed us to again. It just is NOT the same watching from home but I do understand the need for it at that time. I was so happy to get back to see all my church family and experience the worship with my church family. As far as other stuff I am and will continue to do all the things I use to do before COVID. Hopefully others will follow the getting back to normal process and your meetings will grow to what they use to be. I love you and enjoy your articles very much. I do pray that you can get some relief from the health issues soon.
I so enjoyed your openness to ‘hibernating ‘…… I too got very comfortable with the CoVid restrictions, and became a recluse, got fatter, lost muscle, and balance, forgot how to dress and just got LAZY!! I don’t like it, and with the exercises at our church I have found new life, the gym, learned to dress and gotten back to church and getting out!!
I’m a people person and being your own company can lead to depression , loneliness and unnecessary overthinking life!!
I am liking this new freedom!
Thank you for your article and looking forward to seeing you back in class♥️
We’ll said!! Thank you for encouragement!