Quarantine as an Opportunity to Evolve in Faith – Calvin Floyd

My favorite part of being a Christian is the community that comes along with it. Community lies at the core of most religions, and is the foundation of the concept of religion. Often, religious community turns into an extended family—helping to raise children, sharing meals together, overcoming life’s challenges alongside one another, and providing weekly constancy and routine. They say it takes a village to raise a child. For me, my faith community was very much a part of that process.

Over the last five months, that community has been all but absent. Sunday morning services and weekly gatherings have been held over Zoom, but it just isn’t the same. Easter came and went in a way I don’t remember happening since I was a child. Unfortunately, this loss of community made it harder for me to feel a deep connection to my faith. I could feel myself thinking less and less frequently about my relationship with God and my faith background.

This pandemic came at a time when I was already going through a transition in my faith journey. Having grown in the same church for eighteen years, moving to a new state meant having to start over and find a new community. My freshman year, for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a church to call home. I found a youth group for Christians in the Greek community which remains a safe and welcoming space, but I began to notice that most of the people I was surrounding myself with at school weren’t Christians; they were either agnostic or Jewish.

And yet, I noticed I felt rooted in my own faith more than ever before; how could this be? Fast forward two years to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I now had more time than ever to reflect on this question. While UW-Madison is by no means a very diverse school, it did present some of the first opportunities in my life to surround myself with people who experienced faith differently than me. In learning more about other religious traditions, and people’s experience without religion, I was forced to question my own beliefs. The result was not only becoming firmer in my own beliefs, but learning that in recognizing and embracing how others experience faith, rather than ignoring it, I become closer to them and to my understanding of faith. Hence, I began to understand that my idea of a faith community was evolving. Now my faith community consisted of friends who held different beliefs than me, and who were willing and open to questioning my faith and their own. I understand that now for me, what is most important isn’t the religious anatomy of the group, but simply the existence and closeness of that community.

The conclusion that experiencing and embracing the otherness of others as a path towards both growth and inclusion is something I’ve been thinking about for some time, but quarantine gave me the mental space I needed to draw some important conclusions. And now I’m so excited to be a part of this fellowship, which is dedicated to recognizing and learning from the otherness of one another. I’m excited to grow in community with you all.

Were you able to use quarantine as a time to reflect on your faith or beliefs? If so, was that reflection fruitful?

6 thoughts on “Quarantine as an Opportunity to Evolve in Faith – Calvin Floyd”

  1. You mentioned that you found a “group for Christians in the Greek community” at UW-Madison. In what ways do you feel that fraternity life has replaced your religious community from back home? I was never particularly close with my Catholic community back home and, once I started college, I became entirely separated from it. However, I do feel that the community I had back home was special from any other community I have had since. In other words, I feel as though my religious community cannot be replaced by another group. You suggest that you found a surrogate community on campus which fulfills the role of your religious community. In what ways does it fulfill that role and in what ways does it not?

    (hi Emma, who approved comments)

  2. Hi Calvin, I found myself relating to your feeling that your relationship with faith had changed as a result of services being moved online. The usual sense of community that I felt at religious services has disappeared in an online format. Then over the summer, when my church decided to hold in person services again, I felt a sense of anger as I knew this would not be something myself and my family would be comfortable with given the number of COVID cases in our community. To address your question about reflection, this disappointment with my church has lead me to reflect on what my faith means to me even if the community I am accustomed to being a part of no longer represents some of my values. What I have realized is that my personal faith does not rely on the ability to gather with others who practice the same religion that I do. Your experiences with finding community with others who do not practice the same religion as you makes me eager to participate more in interfaith dialogue in the upcoming months!

  3. I agree. Coming to Madison on its own is such a huge transition, but this pandemic makes everything so much more complicated. I think it’s really cool that you’re taking the pandemic as an opportunity to grow and develop your practice. I found that my practice has changed a lot myself, so much of Judaism requires community, and finding community has been made very difficult lately. For me, I’ve been finding new ways to engage with my Jewish friends, either through Netflix parties, calling, facetimes, and whatever else. That’s been how I’ve changed the most in the pandemic.

  4. Hi Calvin,

    I have also found myself increasingly surrounding myself with friends who are not Christian like me. No particular reason, I believe it is jus due to a more diverse campus than my community back home. I had joined a christian community on campus but no one was also Roman Catholic like me. When quarantine hit I continued to meet with my Christian community over zoom and through weekly meetings, but I almost all together stopped attending Sunday mass. Partially this was due to the lack of accessibility due to being online, but I also think I wasn’t putting as much effort or time into reflecting and working on my faith. I began to realize the work I had to put in to becoming a more faith-driven version of myself.

  5. Hi Calvin,

    I too had the same connection with my religious community growing up and I too was active in the community. When Covid began and the mosques began closing down, it was the time of Ramadan which is a religious holiday that emphasizes group worship. For the first time in my 20 years of being alive I was not able to pray with my community for Ramadan in the mosques and this affected my faith deeply. It affected my faith in the sense that the feeling of community was no longer there and I started to feel as if my faith was weaker without my community, However, one day during quarantine I reflected on my faith and found out that my faith isn’t held together by my community, but rather my community only makes my faith stronger. I learned through self reflection that the only one in control of my faith is me, and that no matter what the circumstances are my faith will always be as strong as I make it.

  6. Hello, Calvin! What a thoughtful post. Interestingly enough, I have never actually had a faith community that I deeply connect with. I’ve been to church a few times, and certainly have my grandma to talk to about my beliefs, but the journey has mostly been a solitary one. Because of that, this fellowship is actually my first experience with a group of people who all value faith and religion, in whatever form that may be! I loved what you said about embracing the “otherness of others”. This group truly doesn’t have to be homogenous, since we all have so much to learn from each other (from the smallest factoids to all-encompassing religious values!). I think this fellowship is one of the most interesting and fruitful ways I could have kickstarted a religious community for myself. Thank you for reminding me of that through your post!

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