The photo above is the Skagit Valley (near Mount Vernon) in Washington, very near where Dan and Carlene Jean live and home to the Skagit Valley Chorale which suffered an early tragedy in the COVID-19 epidemic. The valley’s world-famous tulips are in bloom at this time of year.




Lesson 7 – The Great Pause

In the shower of words about the Corona crisis flooding our televisions and computers few words stick out much. One phrase – The Great Pause – stopped me right away. Since there is enormous pressure to get back to normal, there are dozens of articles demanding when and how we will quickly restore our old ways of living. A “get back to work” mentality defines our worth in economic terms. A full speed ahead growth agenda has no time for time outs. But this –this “Great Pause” – points us in a different direction.

First, The Great Pause allows the pause to be “great” both in scope and possibility. In its history, our nation has never stopped like this, so suddenly and completely. Every aspect of our daily lives has been put on hold. Goods and services are unavailable. Our workplaces, schools, and churches are closed. Our healthcare system, touted as the world’s best, is unable to cope with the crisis. It is fair to ask, “How can this be called “great?” Please read on.

Secondly, The Great Pause opens the door to ask a different set of questions. Forget about going back. What about going forward? Instead of just hurrying back into our old world, what about going forward into what can be and should be? What have we learned together? Where did we succeed? When did we fail? What should we keep? What needs fixing? What old ways do we need to throw out with our no longer needed COVID-19 masks? Surely this stoppage is a unique chance to imagine a better way.

It is fair for you as reader to flare at such simple thinking. There is suffering around the world. There are mounting bills and sleepless nights. There are cancelled proms and graduations. There are weddings on hold and funerals without mourners. As individuals, we are devastated and heartbroken. As a society, we are vulnerable in ways we never imagined, and they are all hitting us all at once. Where is the “great” in this? Where is there any good at all?

Well, consider this. Families have spent more days together while in crisis than they ever did in good times. While, at first, panic buying emptied shelves of bunker commodities, now flour and other baking supplies are in demand. We are learning to be at home. We are learning to be together, talking with one another, playing together, and dining together. That is good news!

This terrible crisis has given us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country more clearly. The old world simply stopped performing according to plan. It has failed us. However, if we pay close attention, this disaster can become the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Our willingness to let old systems go on without question is to miss this opportunity.

If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now. If a situation – healthcare, finances, employment, or government – makes us sad or angry or insecure, then now is the time to begin its repair or replacement. If another situation – baking cookies, hiking in the woods, calling an old friend on the telephone, or having a deep discussion with a frightened child – fills us with a sense of wonder, accomplishment, community or love – then we must make room for those things.

The Great Pause offers room for great hope. Start dreaming now.

Dan Jean

Dan Jean is a retired Methodist minister living with his wife, Carlene, in Lynden, Washington. Dan and Carlene have been featured in CUEcast episodes, and their writings will occasionally appear here on the YouthCUE website.



  1. Amidst the pain and suffering of COVID-19, what “silver lining opportunities” have you seen during this time of pause? What of those opportunities have benefitted you and those you love?
  2. When the pandemic subsides, in what ways do you hope our world will be a better place for having endured these difficult times?