Normal 2021 is fondest hopeOnce-routine things have gained value in the past year, ministers say

Far from a bevy of ambitious resolutions, the most logical hope for 2021 is a return to normality, ministers say.
Leslie Boone, Del Traffanstedt and Beth Harrington say the pandemic has been so stressful that 2020 was a bad memory long before it was over.
“Most everybody I’ve talked to is just hoping to get back to normal life again,” said Boone, minister of Andrews Church of Christ. “There aren’t any big goals.
“We have found out that the little things we didn’t even think about before were really worthwhile like being able to poke your head in the door at the nursing home and say ‘hi’ to your mom.”
Boone was hoping the coronavirus vaccines would be effective, but the experiences of 2020 had taught him not to be too optimistic.
“My expectations have been dashed so many times this year that I’m not one to look down the road and tell what the future holds,” he said. “One of my messages to our members has been to take care of today and each other and not worry about what tomorrow will be like.
“Take the moment of right now and go on from there.”
Boone said in mid-November that no one at the Andrews Church of Christ had tested positive for the virus, but the many infections and 13 deaths in Andrews County had nonetheless been alarming.
“Everybody in Andrews is close enough that it almost feels like losing family,” he said. “I’m looking forward to turning the corner and having some hope.”
The Rev. Traffanstedt, pastor of Mission Dorado Baptist Church, had had members come down with COVID-19 while others “suffered from depression, fear and hopelessness,” he said.
“That was sobering and tough, but at the same time I’ve seen people collapse on one another and support one another and come together and bond in ways we hadn’t seen before. We’ve had people stand up in the gap and serve.
“A lot of senior adults have comforted and cared for others,” Traffanstedt said. “They’re lead caregivers now.”
Harrington, of Lubbock, the retired pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Monahans, had had a lot of contact with coronavirus victims and their families in her new profession of nurse practitioner.
“I’ve been working in Odessa and Midland and some in Monahans,” she said. “2020 has been tough for everyone. There are some who don’t seem to feel that way and I’m not sure they are thinking clearly.
“I’m certainly praying for a calmer New Year.”
Harrington had been dismayed by the pandemic’s duration. “What I’ve been seeing is tragic,” she said.
“People come in thinking they have allergies. They don’t want to believe it because they want to keep going. It’s frustrating. The symptoms are sometimes silent until other people have been exposed.
“In times like these, it’s even more important that we pause and reflect on our faith because it’s easy to become discouraged. The only way we can have hope is to know that God is bigger than COVID and bigger than any problems that any of us have experienced.
“In this season, we should reflect on who God is and look to him. He is still in control.”