A friend of mine recently returned to his office. He hadn’t been there in two years, since the outbreak of the pandemic. He had been feeling a little anxious about returning with everyone else, so he had gone in by himself one day before the official re-opening, just to give it a trial run.
He said that stepping into his office was like entering a time capsule. His desk calendar still showed March 2020. The leaves of a beloved plant were two feet long. There was still some coffee residue at the bottom of his cup. It was as if the occupant – him – had left in a hurry, fully expecting to be back in a week or two.
As he settled in for a few hours of work, he noticed other things: forgotten pictures of family and friends on his desk; awards and honours from years ago on the wall; the way the sun slanted through the blinds, exactly the way he had liked it.
As he went through the pile of mail on his desk, he found subscription renewal notices, newsletters and general correspondence – all long out of date. But among the letters were Christmas and birthday cards from family and friends. Though months and even years old, their sweet messages of hope and encouragement touched his heart afresh. Time hadn’t dimmed their love.
Slowly he started to work – and was pleasantly surprised to find that things went rather well. All the old skills, changed beyond recognition by the pandemic and two years of working at home, came back to him again. The computer worked. The desk was large and solid. The internet connection was superb. His chair was comfortable and reassuring. In the quiet of his office, he knew things were going to be okay.
At noon he went out to lunch with some family and friends. They hadn’t seen each other in more than two years. There were hugs and tears. Someone said, “We survived!” Everyone looked a little older and wiser, but the spark in their eyes was still there. It was a time to catch up, to celebrate and to give thanks.
You may be returning to your office soon someday as well, or you may know someone who is. Like my friend, you may be a little anxious about it. Will I be able to do it? Will I still fit in? Will things work? Am I going to be able to handle the daily commute? How will this impact my new routine? These thoughts are normal. Hundreds of thousands of people in Ontario who are about to go back to their offices after working at home for the past two years are probably thinking the same thing. You’re not alone.
As some of us “head back” to the office, in whatever form that takes, know that God is with us every step of the way. Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
May God continue to guide and protect us as we enter this next stage of our journey, and may you, like my friend, find joy and peace along the way.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto