What can we learn from the madness of March 2020?
It's been a crazy couple of years, right? We were all ready to fill out our brackets back in 2020, but the March Madness we banked on being able to follow rimmed out.
Roundball took an indefinite intermission. It was we who ended up on the hardwood of hard times, giving and taking shots. Shots from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson. There were no easy layups.
It proved to be a March Madness of another kind.
Can you believe it? It was two years ago this month when our normal lives went on vacation. And in response we were called to "shelter in place."
Socially distanced, we stocked the toolboxes of our lives with masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and tape measures.
Our daily routines consisted of window visits, drive-by birthday greetings, Zoom meetings, virtual classrooms, virtual worship services, and working from home.
While normalcy took a vacation, we found ourselves on a journey of our own without a compass or a map. It was an unplanned road trip through seemingly endless restrictions.
It was a nonstop flight into fear. The coronavirus cruise on which we found ourselves ticketed made ports-of-call to places we'd never dreamed of or imagined.
And when we docked, the excursions offered were anything but entertaining. Because of the contagious nature of the virus, the voyage we were journaling turned out to be a round-the-world cruise. COVID was everywhere!
Yes, the pandemic made for pandemonium and the restrictions seemed insane. Truly, March Madness became monthly madness.
I don't know about you, but I nearly went berserk masking up day after day. And that wasn't the half of it. With people wearing hats, sunglasses and masks, it was easy to pass friends on the street without recognizing them.
We couldn't help but feel for those front-line workers whose jobs demanded they work among those infected. As a chaplain for a retirement community, my visits to residents in our health center made me keenly aware of the acute challenges we were hearing about in the news.
The stress was accumulative in nature to more than just senior adults living in vulnerable settings.
With nearly a million people having died in our country from COVID-related complications, I'm guessing most of us know the name of someone on that tragic list.
And the mounting toll of deaths has maintained the momentum of anxiety. It has exacerbated the plight of the lonely. Depression rates have increased. Alcohol abuse has as well.
But two years have passed and we survived.
While it was enough to drive us mad, this March we are less crazy. Mask mandates are being relaxed (if not rescinded).
We are more inclined to breathe deeply and think clearly. My hope is that we are more sensitive to the spiritual dimension of our tired souls.
The full-court press of the pandemic has found us tasting flavors of God's grace we didn't even know existed.
We discovered how much we need each other. We have learned not to take a handshake or a hug for granted.
We came to a new understanding of how precious an average ordinary day really is.
And though it took being in a state of virtual madness, I'm glad for what we've learned.
My prayer is that the lessons we gleaned will impact the way we see ourselves and each other as we navigate our way back to what the experts are referring to as a new normal.
• The Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos is a former Naperville resident who writes about faith and family.