Anyone who plays sport, from the elite athlete to the humble amateur, will know that the most dangerous moment in any game comes after a success. In Tennis that moment can come after a hard-won point or set, it is then that you can let your guard down, you relax, switch off slightly. It is not unknown for a tennis player to battle for a set and then loose a couple of games at the beginning of the next set, jeopardising the whole match. I have a sense that a bit of that is going on now in the national collective psyche. The days are getting longer and brighter, the vaccines are rolling out and seem to be having a big impact on transmission of the virus. I am reading about people booking holidays and hearing of people yearning for holidays. We are not quite there yet, even if we want to be, it feels like the collective resolve is weakening slightly. This could be just the time, when as followers of Christ, we let go of the spiritual focus we have developed over lockdown.
I too find myself eagerly dreaming of the future. I am not dreaming of holidays, (Ok, maybe a bit of shopping and some hill-walking). My dream is for us as a community, that we can get back to being in a room together, inspiring each other, supporting each other, growing in faith and our shared mission together.
We have an amazing community, and I don’t know what it is about the lockdown that has revealed that more but somehow it has. It may be that while some have to isolate others have stepped up and taken on more responsibility or that having Mass in lockdown feels more impactful than usual, I can’t quite put my finger on it. It could be that we have a strong community online, or that those coming to Mass are so happy to be there. I know I am not alone in sensing that we have a strong and vibrant community made up of those who are isolating and those who aren’t.
What I am most excited about is reaching out to people who are seeking God and inviting them to join us, when we have a bit more freedom. I believe that we are an attractive faith filled community with a lot to offer, but when we can get together physically and get back to prayer partners at Mass (remember those good old days) I think what we have will really come alive. I am so excited about us running Alpha because it will give people who are seeking God an easy way to come and see what we are like. Welcoming back those who have been missing Mass because they are isolating will be a great joy too. It was lovely to see a few returning familiar faces at the Ash Wednesday Masses.
It is easy to dream and sometimes it feels that our dreams are all that are keeping us going at the moment. And before I get carried away, I know that taking a day at a time is a key focus at the moment, it is not all over and there may be a little way to go yet. Lent may have come at just the right time to help keep us focused on our interior life as the lockdown gradually ends. As we journey through Lent, we are reminded that we have our strong community to help and support each other in our spiritual practices and with our lockdown struggles. I think we have a tremendous amount to be proud of at the moment and a tremendous amount to look forward to, hopefully that will carry us all through these final weeks of lockdown!