Every era defining moment comes with its own language, pulling familiar words into view and filling their meaning with fresh and often urgent purpose.

The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. We’ve always known ‘lockdown’ was a term and together with words like ‘unprecedented’ and ‘fever,’ they have been enjoying a popularity of epidemic proportions.

But there’s one word that’s made the COVID VOCAB Top Ten and I believe it’s influence will extend way beyond it, leaving words like ‘lockdown,’ ‘unprecedented’ or ‘social’ and ‘distancing’ standing in its wake.

It’s the word: ESSENTIAL. Currently ‘essential’ is rightly being used by governments to help us distinguish between what’s absolutely necessary and what isn’t in terms of travel, shopping and other services.

However, the word ‘essential’ is redefining everything around us.

Over the weeks since the outbreak started Churches, employers and people have discovered or perhaps rediscovered what’s not – and what is – essentially essential:

Buildings aren’t, but bonding is – sharing mission is better than sharing space.

Luxury isn’t, but living is – ‘meaning’ is trumping ‘more.’

Resource isn’t, but reach is – effort has overtaken excellence and is winning. ‘Make – do’ has made a come back.

Urgent isn’t, but important is – what we can’t do is revealing what we will do, once we can. And it’s not what we thought. We’ll prioritise people first, places second.

Class isn’t, but character is – more low level moral fibre than moralising from the high ground.

Time isn’t but together is – time isn’t nearly as important as what we do with the time we’ll have when things relax a little.

Life in Lockdown has somehow made us feel freer than ever – free to be true to ourselves, freer to explore interests and hobbies, freer to shape our lives in the form of our own agenda rather than being historically pushed from pillar to post by everyone else’s.

There’s a lot I miss about life the way it was, but for all the disruption and subsequent separation, ‘essential’ has changed everything and I’m in no hurry to see life go back to ‘normal.’ Maybe it will. Maybe it has to, but surely we have to emerge from this more connected, creative, contented and caring?

What do you think may change as we emerge from this?

How is COVID-19 reshaping your ‘essential’ life?