A light movement of wind,

a small ripple in the water,

a comment, a tweet, a post,

a few words, and it begins.

A storm, a tsunami,

a hurricane, an eruption

sudden and unexpected,

a crash, and it begins.

Back to normal becomes

a place of no return.

Have you ever wondered where and what you would be now if you had chosen to hold onto the where and what you used to be? A long time ago I would have become one of the Beatles, but just maybe that didn’t happen. Obviously my teenage dream did not come true, and so many newer dreams have formed, and then flourished or failed, since then. On the other hand, the Beatle in me – with a desire to be special and shower the world with my gifts – has flourished once in a while. That boyhood fantasy pushed me forward. That dream was a place to rest my foot until the next step became clearer and I was strong enough to take it. It was one step along the path to here and now.

How shocking it is when a shift in reality invades our space and threatens our safety! Our here and now is unrooted. In spite of its long history, the whole world seems unprepared for the new reality we face. We have been deeply shaken by a particle of genetic material too tiny to imagine. This same invisible agent has systematically spread into every nation, home and individual consciousness, if not through infection and disease, then through fear and disruption. We are struggling through a painful paradox of deep denial pitted against obvious devastation, in shock that our everyday lives have halted. At the same time, we are locked in our homes, we are locked out of our jobs, schools and churches. Strangers are suddenly frightening. Friends are kept at a distance. Families are separated. Lovers are parted. Our dreams are stolen and shattered.

Life is a long corridor of possibility, and the longer we walk it, the richer and more rewarding it can become. We can reach places of great beauty, joy, and comfort. We can rest and celebrate in the best here and now we have ever seen. But why should we believe that this here and now is our finishing point? Do we even want to be finished dreaming? We must always be imagining our futures. We are not allowed to know what will come along to change our paths, to demand a next steps toward our there and then selves.

As I look back at the steps I have taken, not all have been by choice. Not every step can be a joyful stride. Some steps are just painful exits from an old dream left in pieces. Our present crisis might be an old dream that has run its course. It may be that we must move forward rather than go back. “Back to normal becomes a place of no return” suggests to me that my future is not back to here and now, but rather ahead to there and then. Rather than suffer loss, I intend to salvage the best parts of life – the keepers – and step off toward the future.

Dan Jean

Poem from Poetry at Work: The Poetry of Crisis post by Glynn Young

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. In what ways do you see yourself stepping up and stepping out into your new normal?
  2. How do you hope the world will be different when the dust settles from COVID-19? How do you hope the church will be made better by what we have experienced together?
  3. What dreams in your life have been altered by circumstance, only discover later that what actually occurred may have turned out better than what you had originally dreamed?