Home schooling has many parents figuring out how to explain new concepts to their children. I found myself teaching about hibernation and migration. And in the midst of talking about geese migrating and bears hibernating, my six-year-old reflected that Coronavirus meant we were all having to hibernate this winter and no one could migrate to somewhere hotter. It was a good application of learning to the situation we all find ourselves in.
Indeed, for many of us, in these long and cold nights, we may have found that we are in some sort of hibernation mode. In hibernation the heart continues to beat. As humans our beating hearts yearn for connection, purpose and meaning. We might find ourselves restless seeking an end to the pandemic and fretting because the end is not in plain sight. But the reopening of schools, cafes, shops, garden centres, GAA pitches or pubs may not ease the deepest restlessness in us. We know those popular words of Saint Augustine; “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” So perhaps we shouldn’t let our minds race to the next re-opening and lifting of lockdown restrictions but use these quieter and slower times to let our hearts tend to God and what he desires to teach us.
In a busy and frenetic world, we should allow ourselves to embrace the good that can come from these quieter days – a happy fault. I say that not to gloss over the deep pain that has accompanied this pandemic – my own memory will be forever etched with the deep pain of not being able to visit my father and his death from contracting COVID – the pain of this pandemic is real for all of us. However, it is from the faith passed on by my father that I consider that there may well be a ‘felix culpa’, a happy fault.
In all of God’s dealings with us his people he has continually brought good forth from evil. God does not desire our suffering but rather is constantly working to turn our suffering to joy. His striving for humanity is seen through the response of love through the Incarnation when God became man, to then suffer death on a cross, a death that was defeated through the resurrection.
God desires to be close to us.
God seeks only the best for us – his people.
God can change disaster to triumph.
And so, we have to ask in these long, isolated days:
What am I learning about myself?
What good might God be inviting me to see in the midst of this pandemic?
What is God asking me to change?
What is God calling me to do?
In these Lockdown days, in the midst of Lent, may we be open to all that God desires to teach us. May we not migrate and flee from what God wants to teach us. Rather may we slow down, hibernate and be attentive to God working in the stillness of our hearts. And if it has to be that we watch the Easter Vigil online, may we be attentive to the words of the Easter Exultate, “O Happy Fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer!”
Paula McKeown is the Director of the Living Church office in the Diocese of Down and Connor. Paula lives in Kircubbin Co. Down with Joe and their children Anna and Lorcán.
Image ©Mary Dunnion