Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31, NRSV)

A car carrier pulled to the side of the road to unload a car. An ever-increasing number of garbage cans at the curb. More frequent sightings of a great blue heron, a wood stork, a limpkin, egrets, and anhingas. For me these are all signs that the “season” in SWFL has begun. People are returning and so are birds. I have been thinking about these signs. They are not directional signs telling me where to go, but indicator signs, telling me that life is changing. Such changes require me to change too. I have to allow more time to get anywhere because of increased traffic. In the midst of the pandemic, I have to think more carefully about where I can go safely—to avoid crowds and places where crowds gather.

Last week a congregation member sent me an article about “pandemic blues” that offered a variety of strategies for lifting one’s spirits. Many of us have read or heard similar stories about the effect of the pandemic on our psychological and spiritual well-being. Even if we are able to avoid infection, or become infected but experience few or no physical symptoms, the coronavirus is having an impact on our minds, hearts, and spirits.

That is why it is so important that each of us is paying attention to the signs in our lives and the lives of those closest to us. What are the signs telling you? Are the signs indicators of changes that need a response? Has staying at home left you feeling alone and isolated? What changes can you make to care for yourself and reconnect with others—whether through email, phone calls, FaceTime, or Zoom? Has the stress and anxiety affected your eating, drinking, exercise, and/or sleeping habits in ways that reduce your sense of well-being? How might you “reset” daily patterns to improve your health and mood? Are your loved ones showing signs that they are hurting? What can you do, and what can you help them to do, to heal their pain? Are there signs that you or someone you know has reached a level of depression, for example, that requires professional assistance? Help is available.

Throughout the gospels there are stories of how Jesus taught and healed those who gathered around him, how he performed miracles, and how he conveyed his message through parables. These were signs and wonders that revealed God’s presence and saving love. The text above is found near the end of the Gospel of John—to let us know that Jesus performed even more signs than were recorded in writing. As you consider the signs of how the pandemic is affecting you, and what you might change to cope more healthfully, look also for the signs of God’s presence and love. God is present with us always. God’s healing power can help us to help ourselves and others. God’s love triumphs over all. Look for the signs.

Prayer Focus: Healing

Prayer: Loving God: Heal the hurting places in our lives. Help us to be instruments of your healing for others. Amen.