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Lockdown fatigue is hard to break out of

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At about 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, as I’m walking aimlessly with my head down around the empty church parking lot, a car pulls in with Steve and Susan in it (not their actual names).

I’m walking in the church parking lot because I lost my keys in the morning, somewhere between the car and sanctuary, or possibly between the sanctuary and curb behind the building where I put out the recyclables after the service—all steps I have retraced three times. AAA came an hour earlier and broke into my vehicle with a slim jim, dashing the hope that my keys fell between the seats.

Susan says, “Yeah, we were just driving back from Produce Junction, and Steve says, ‘Isn’t that Andrée over there?’” It was a time for catching up because I hadn’t seen them in a while. Twelve months, in fact, they told me. Last March was the last they were in church, because of COVID-19. A year marks my last contact with many church members, people who I expect will have more salt than pepper in their beards next time we meet.

I don’t think the science changed. It just seems we all got bored with the science.

Steve and Susan and I had taught ESL courses together back in B.C. (before corona) for six or seven years, till the virus forced the church program online instead of in person in the classrooms. And that didn’t work for some reason: Few students bothered with the Zoom teachings, till we just decided it wasn’t worth it.

I myself started reattending church on a regular basis in December 2020. I’m not boasting, because the only reason I did it was my father’s insistence that we go. (He stopped driving a year ago.) Every Sunday morning since last spring he has been dressing in his Sunday clothes, even though all we had done was pull three chairs up in front of the computer and watch the pastor and musicians minister to a tooth-gapped seating arrangement.

Back in spring I was telling myself that it was to protect my 96-year-old father—the most vulnerable age group, remember?—that I was staying home on the Lord’s Day morning, because that’s what was initially touted as the responsible course. Now we go to church with my dad and nobody says boo. I don’t think the science changed. It just seems we all got bored with the science. Or weary with ever-changing rules we don’t understand. (No masks. Masks. Double masks.)

At some point after post-lockdown onset, I noticed that the less I saw people, the less I wanted to see people. I just got comfortable like a hobbit. I hardly had to clean the church building anymore because hardly anybody is using it. So income is down, but I don’t even mind. We did have one socially distanced staff meeting in January, which looked like a Biden rally, where I saw that a few of our respective diets have succumbed to the daily “I’m bored, I’m going to eat something” temptation.

That is a thing. But worse for me is the temptation of an inexplicable lassitude—not feeling like calling anyone, going anywhere, or even answering the phone. It’s like that green powder the Queen of Underland sprinkled on Prince Rilian in The Silver Chair that had a “sweet and drowsy smell” and “made it harder to think.” The devil will have you thinking that going to Produce Junction is safer than going to church, even though I’m sure that place is more crowded than church.

It gnaws at me a little every day, because I can’t shake what I know from the Bible: Certain verses about not forsaking assembling (Hebrews 10:25); not being slothful (Hebrews 6:12); not looking only to my own interests but to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).

So this column is by way of confession—as in “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16).

I’ve started calling one or two people a day, and it seems to dispel the green dust in some measure. Also, I did find my keys.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine. Her columns have been compiled into three books including Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me. Andrée resides near Philadelphia.


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