Faith Focus: Facing up to the ‘new normal’

Dennis Stamps

Dennis Stamps - Credit: Archant

Have you heard the phrase, ‘new normal’? We are all coping with the reality that COVID-19 is not going away for now. Many of the changes we thought were short-term will be lasting for a good while longer.

On Harpenden High Street, there are pavement markers, sanitiser dispensers, new parking restrictions, and signs reminding us to social distance. Same high street, but not as it was. For now, these steps make sense to cope with the pandemic.

Another new normal is wearing masks. In Harpenden, people are generally very good about wearing them in the shops. Most people do not wear them as they walk about the town centre. So the new normal is taking our face masks on and off as we go about our shopping.

Church is a new normal too. In Harpenden, some churches have not yet opened their buildings for public worship. Church leaders are discussing the benefits and risks.

Anglicans have started holding services in their church buildings, but it is a new normal. You sanitise your hands on entry and exit, wear face masks the whole time, social distance in the pews, no singing. To be honest few have come back compared to the numbers who used to attend.

We are all coping with the changes of the new normal. How are you doing? For everyone it is a challenge. For many it is stressful. For some it is traumatic. But life is about handling change.

To deal with change you need others to encourage and support you. You also need personal resilience. As a vicar, I find both in my faith community, my church. My friends at church give me strength as we share the challenges. My faith in God connects me with a higher power and a divine perspective that helps me deal with change.

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There are other ways like mindfulness, meditation, exercise, and nature walks that help us deal with anxiety and get a helpful viewpoint on change.

The new normal means coping with change. How are you resourced to cope?

Canon Dennis Stamps is Rector of the Parish of Harpenden, a single parish with three churches: St Nicholas’, St Mary’s and All Saints.