Do you want it all to just end? The grey wet days, the monotony, the confinement, the international acrimony, the wretched virus -the chaos? I think that is how most people are feeling and I have been as touched by these feelings as anyone but, like you, I am sure I have been able to find solace in the little things, my daily walk has provided the greatest solace. I tend to go for an hour’s walk every day, rain or shine, alone or with friends if possible. If alone I go for a power walk and get some good exercise and when with friends I enjoy good conversation and company. If it is wet I feel a sense of achievement and if sunny I come home uplifted, it is a win win. These walks also give me time to reflect and ponder to put things in perspective.
Unlike most people I am finding lockdown three a burden easier to bear than lockdown one. Yes I know, strange but hey why not be strange! In lockdown one the church was closed and this had a big effect on my mental and emotional well-being, especially as the lockdown progressed. I really am a people person and to lose all the interactions that give meaning to my life was a big blow. We moved onto Zoom which was amazing but I have come to realise that Zoom kills me and I try to spend as little time on it as possible now. I can tolerate it, it is useful, but also a bit of a necessary evil. Over the summer, though, it was essential and helped so many of us in the parish to keep connected, there were some fun times but by the end of that lockdown I was burnt out from all digital interaction. I have learnt some lessons from that experience which have gone to shaping this lockdown.
Being open in this lockdown is a life saver for me and I know a number of you. I have been genuinely surprised at how many of you have been coming to Mass, it has brought me great joy. I also understand the need for many of you to stay at home and really look forward to seeing you when you come back. As I reflect on the empty church of lockdown one and seeing those of you at Mass now I am so grateful and happy. But it is not just being open for Mass that has made a difference, my zoom time is drastically down, I really have to leave that to those who enjoy it. I have prayer and my daily walk. If I do say so, I have a pretty good routine, it is working at least. I have surprisingly found myself quite busy, busier than I expected – I am reflecting on how I used to be busier and how insane that was. How did I do it all? I don’t quite know, but what I do know is that I am not going back to it, not for the foreseeable future anyway.
That brings me on to the point I want to make this week. When this is all over what are we going to go back to? Firstly I don’t think it will be all over for a long time. Like with the Second World War which ended but had far reaching after effects like rationing and rebuilding, what will happen when the pandemic is over? I expect the virus will be with us for some time, face masks might stay for a while and the economy will need to be rebuilt. But above all we will not be going back to what life was before the pandemic, social interactions will be changed, society itself has changed.
While we all want this to end we might be caught out when it does because we are not thinking of how our lives will be when that time comes. If we just want this to end we are not preparing ourselves for when it does.
My question to you is what kind of life do you want when this is all over? As Christians we are not self deterministic. We cannot say I want to do this or that with my life without reference to what God wants for us. As we move through the pandemic to whatever is to come it is a good opportunity to ask God how he wants our lives to be, how does he want us to flourish and build up his kingdom? Yes we are struggling now but if we get too caught up in the struggle and stop dreaming we will find that we arrive at our destination unprepared and likely to get caught up in the tide of whatever comes along. In these dark, wet, grey, monotonous days why not invite the Lord to be with you and to help you dream the life he wants for you when this is all over?!