Does this seem an odd place to talk about something so pragmatic as how we deal with the end of lockdown? On the contrary, if a desert bush could burn with God’s fire for Moses, so we may find this time of (partial) deconfinement filled with God’s holiness. It is up to us.
We can react as circumstances change. That is probably what most of us have been doing, unable to predict or to prepare for the next stage. Or we can pray and reflect so that we are ready to respond as God’s people to each change that comes our way.
So here are some questions and issues to pray about and to reflect on so as to help our thoughts:
- What will I miss from lockdown? It is very normal to feel it as a difficult time, but if we turn it round and consider what advantages it has brought (quiet, family, time to pray, relaxation etc) we might be more prepared for the loss of those things.
- Do I want to keep any of those things going? Do I have a confinement gift or skill (listening to others, writing a diary) that I desire to build into my next stage of life?
- How has lockdown left me (and those around me) feeling? I may be full of energy and enthusiasm after a time of gathering my energy, more likely I have experienced fear, grief, exhaustion and a (temporary) difficulty with finding the right words. Can I be gentle with myself and others as we return to what we consider normal?
- How have I changed this year and how will I help others to be aware of it? We all change all the time anyway and it can be difficult to make other people aware that we feel differently on some issues, or respond differently from how we did a year ago. Even more after this unusual time. (And the reverse, will I be on the lookout for changes in others?)
- Do I want to return to everything as it was or do I want somethings to be different (in church, office, education etc)? What effort am I willing to make either way and how will I interact with people who feel differently?
- Do I want to use this opportunity for a new start, to explore a new path? Does it coincide with a time in my life when I want to turn over a new page? I might want to find someone (clergy, spiritual companion/director, friend) who can help me start again. (The image I have been pondering recently is from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘The Trees’; the trees grow older yet each year they grow fresh leaves).
- What if another lockdown comes? Are my expectations realistic? Do I know what I want to do before that happens? Would I handle it the same way?
- Do I need to build bridges – is there a friend I’ve lost touch with, someone I’ve disagreed with or grown away from?
- What changes will this make in the rhythm of my spiritual life – regular prayer, pleasing solitude, working out my own salvation without reference to others?
- How will I look for God in the new patterns of life? Will I notice if I am inclined to spot God’s presence less? Will the change to my pattern of life make me more or less open to awareness of God?