As I walked to Northwestern’s Alice Millar Chapel on May 4 for the Chapel Choir’s first in-person rehearsal of the year, I could not help but notice the lovely pink and white flowers adorning the trees nor could I ignore the many adorable bunnies that hopped below them. The sky was blue, birds were tweeting, and life was finally thriving on campus after a seemingly endless cold and snowy winter. Just as the earth revives after the harshest of winters with the coming of spring, so it seems that we at Northwestern are entering a metaphoric spring as we begin to come out of the pandemic and return to some semblance of normalcy.
For me, this choir rehearsal has become the light at the end of the tunnel concerning pandemic life. This was the first event since coming to college that I have been able to experience with fellow students outside of the isolating Zoom rooms. After almost an entire year of participating in this choir virtually, I was finally able to harmonize, laugh with and physically be around the other members of my choir. Faces that I had become acquainted with through the screen were now attached to persons with whom I could finally enjoy genuine human interaction. It was surreal, and it was rejuvenating.
The isolation of this academic year has been excruciating to say the least. As great as technology and Zoom have been for maintaining involvement in organizations and social interaction with friends, it will never satisfy our need for community like face-to-face (or in this case, mask-to-mask) interaction can. As the Alice Millar Chapel Choir drew a collective breath and began to sing the timeless hymn “How Great Thou Art,” I could not help but feel blessed to be in community once again: no longer a single voice behind a screen, but a contributing voice to something greater — a musical and communal whole.
Of course, we as a global community have a long way to go before life can return to the pre-pandemic normal that we all miss. However, this small step towards normalcy and other encouraging developments like the increasing availability of vaccines brings with them the promise that the day will come when the pandemic will end and life will return to normal. No matter how long it might take, this too shall pass.