The word “essential” has been used a lot over the past several months in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic—essential businesses, essential services, essential workers, etc. Essential businesses that provide essential services and should remain open include agriculture and food production, grocery stores, hospitals and other healthcare operations, pharmacies, garbage collection, water and wastewater treatment facilities, gas stations, banks, post offices, etc. Barbershops, beauty salons, theaters, gyms, museums, and bowling alleys, on the other hand, have mostly been on the nonessential list.
Considering what is essential and what is nonessential is one way to think about what is important in life. And there’s nothing quite like a pandemic to get us thinking about life essentials. If you were to make a list of things that are essential to your life—with or without a pandemic—what would be on your list? Here are some things I put on my list, in no particular order.
I see in this list things that are personal and things that are communal, things that have to do with personal formation and things that are about living in relationship with others. What else would you add to this list? Try making your own list of essentials; then start a conversation about it with your spouse or family, or with friends or your housemates. COVID-19 might help us to strip away the nonessentials of our lives so that we find ourselves less encumbered and more alive to what is important. “…let us lay aside every weight and sin that distracts us, and run with perseverance the race set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Phil Kanagy, pastor
July 29, 2020