Margaret Marcuson: Is It Possible to Give Thanks in a Pandemic?

This Thanksgiving, as so many will choose not to travel or gather in person with loved ones, can we be grateful for anything about the covid-19 outbreak? Over 47 million people have suffered from the disease and over a million have died from it. Isn’t it heartless to be grateful for anything about this?

I’ve found I can acknowledge the pain and suffering that many have experienced, and will experience in the future from this pandemic--and still celebrate the positive experiences and developments that have accrued. There is much to grieve--and also much to appreciate.

Here are a few things I’ve seen:

...The tremendous resilience and creativity I’ve seen in church leaders all over to keep worship and community life going.  I’ve talked to many clergy around the US and Canada over these months. I see it. I know it’s taken a toll. Many are exhausted, and some are not getting the appreciation they deserve!  However, they have found reserves to meet the challenge. 

...Related to this is the opportunity--and necessity--to experiment with new ways of being and doing church which we’ve needed to try for a long time. Some have said to me, “I don’t want to go back to the old way of church.”

...The ability of leaders to take clear stands about whether and how to resume in-person worship, in the face of criticism and complaint.

And, beyond the church, I also see reason to celebrate:

...The dedication of healthcare workers around the world.

...The inequities in our healthcare system and employment patterns are far more visible than they used to be. That’s not the same as changing them, but at least many more can see it. 

...People’s proficiency with technology has zoomed (Zoomed?).

...Because of the need for virtual connection, people have gotten in the same virtual room who would never have been in the same physical room. I’ve seen this with numerous conferences and programs which have moved online. My Portland-based book group now has a new member from New Mexico!

...People in many fields are finding new ways to express themselves since the old ways aren’t available. I heard about a classical clarinetist who used the downtime from his orchestra to create a brand-new online clarinet academy.

...The way the pandemic absorbed societal anxiety may have enabled people to see more clearly the implications of the death of George Floyd--and so many others--and begin to take action. (I’m grateful to Walter Smith for this insight.)

...A burst of scientific research to find treatment and a vaccine and greater openness in the sharing of research to facilitate this.

Amid the many challenges, what do you see that you can be grateful for about this time? 

Click here to get six ways to lead less anxiously and sustain yourself through these days.