When our building closed back in March, the wonderful folks who maintain it decided to do much needed maintenance. We have a child care centre that rents from us five days a week, so getting to work in those spaces is difficult. With the centre closed indefinitely, our property team went to work on a long overdue task: replacing our duct work.
We had a sense for a while that the ducts needed some TLC. Some rooms were constantly freezing and others were constantly hot. But with the day to day busyness in the building, there simply wasn’t the opportunity to dig underneath the floors. We kept going, day after day and year after year. When someone finally crawled under those floor boards, however, it was still a bit of a shock to find how bad things had gotten:
Some of the ducts were totally rusted through. One piece had a hole in it the size of my head. It turned out to be a really good thing that we finally had a chance to look at those ducts. Because there were holes. Big, huge, gaping holes. And it took a quarantine to get them fixed.
Now here is where I move to a very pastor-y moral of the story.
For a lot of us, this quarantine exposed holes in our duct work.
I’m not talking about the physical ducts you have in your home. I’m talking metaphorically about the things running underneath in our lives. A lot of us discovered that we needed some real maintenance.
I have heard the same theme again and again as I talk to people: “This has been hard but I also like things about it too.”
“I like getting to eat dinner with my family each night instead of rushing to the stadium.”
“I like the downtime we have in our routine now.”
“I don’t miss all the running around we used to do!”
It turns out that, like our church building, a lot of us have been running pretty inefficiently, doing more than we can maintain. We lived lives that were exhausting and constantly busy. And it made us tired. We were expending a LOT of extra energy, because there were holes in the duct work of our lives. We were doing too much, too often, with no time to look underneath at what we really needed.
Today I write to all of us with an invitation. If this quarantine helped you see some “holes” in your own duct work, let this time be a gift to you to do some upgrading. If life as it was had more exhaustion than energy, do a service check. And throw out the stuff that was rusting through and leaving holes in your life.
I know we live in a culture that tells us being busy means we are important. I know that for parents we feel we are letting our children down if we don’t give them every opportunity in life. We don’t know if it is really okay to say “no” to extra activities. We don’t want to miss out on things.
But sometimes those things are just rusting us through. And this quarantine gives us a chance to reevaluate. Let me say this clearly. Even when all restrictions lift, you don’t have to go back to life the way it was.
You can choose family dinners over the competitive sports league.
You can choose downtime over more nights out.
You can choose time to walk, rest, read, or have leisurely visits with your neighbours over marking things off your “to do” list.
You can choose boundaries in relationships that aren’t life giving.
You don’t have to walk around doing all the things you feel you have to do until your energy sources are rusted out. You can choose relationships, board games nights, Saturday breakfasts, Friday night movies, dinners in, daily walks, going to church.
You can change the duct work.
If you find yourself looking to life returning to a new normal and you find yourself thinking of all the things you wish could stay the same, hear this: Perhaps a lot of them can.
This quarantine has given us a chance to look under the floorboards of our lives. Let’s let go of what was rusting us out – and start fresh with something new, and better for us.