Warning: understatement ahead. Life sure is different now, what with the pandemic and all it entails.
Hand washing, stay-at-home orders, social distancing, facemasks, distance learning, workplace/livelihood disruptions, physical isolation, and restaurant pick-up/delivery are part of the new normal. Well before these made the forefront of our concerns nursing homes and senior residences clamped down hard on or prohibited outside visitors. Just like that, our little gospel choir had nowhere to sing. And then we had no place to gather and make our music.
This is all for the best for now, given what little we know about the threat we are facing. Most of the choir members have family members or are themselves in high-risk health categories and must be especially careful when navigating pandemic realities. And we grieve with the people we normally sing for when we hear the news that four-fifths of the confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in the state have occurred in congregate living facilities.
Our church community now meets in online video meetings for worship on Sunday mornings, and our choir keeps our Wednesday rehearsal time on the videos, too. The technology does not support us singing together: only the loudest voice can be heard by all, and there are delays between one person’s speakings and everyone else’s hearings. Our weekly time together enables us to keep in touch, talk about what’s on our minds, support each other, and (as guys do) make jokes at each other’s expense.
This week our conversation turned to questions of what our choir will look like post-pandemic. It’s unlikely there will be a sharp division between being in the pandemic and being past it, so there may be several transitions in terms of what is possible. We expect our usual audiences will still be especially vulnerable, so do we keep singing but to different crowds, and if so, who? If large in-person gatherings remain impractical for months (or years), do we find other ways to share our music? There are so many things we don’t know about the future of this beast, whether it’s the trajectory or the timing. We came to no conclusions more profound than we want to keep doing something and that we would gather online again next Wednesday.
If you’re living in a nursing home or an assisted living situation or a senior housing project, know that you are in our prayers. We hope to visit you again, sooner rather than later, and again share our love of gospel music with you. If it’s later rather than sooner, we ask your prayers that our ministry and mission of music continues in a way that spreads love—and hope. God bless you.