After the busyness of Holy Week, I always find this week a good opportunity to take a bit of time to take stock. It’s hard to believe that just over a year ago the only Corona I’d given any consideration to was a fine cigar or a certain pale larger. A lot has happened and maybe we don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we have done. There has been amazing strength, resilience and courage shown. So, taking a moment to look back – How far have we come and what have we learnt? And, although there are still challenges, I know this too soon will pass!
This experience has made people anxious and fearful. Some comment that it also made others selfish and uncaring. I find myself asking where do I fall and what have been the highlights for me this year? When I think back, I can’t help but smile – it was a surprise visit from family for my 50th, building a shed/workshop in my back garden and getting up to see my family in Belfast just before Christmas. What have been yours? For me it has also been the eye-opening, inspirational, innovators and compassionate work that has been going on in our communities and in our neighbourhoods – ordinary people doing ordinary things in the most extraordinary and inspirational of ways. There’s been miracles happening on our doorsteps each day, if I have eyes to see. It’s true we are living in a historical time and future generations will learn and be taught about how we as a generation, a community of faith, a Church responded during this. I wonder what my grandchildren will say about me?
What really stays with me is that, yes, there have been huge acts of faith, strength and courage but thousands every day go unnoticed – parents home schooling, the home carers with no respite or break, the young people supporting each other, candles of thanks and support, the community food banks, the calls and Zoom bingo… the list is endless. It has made me realise how connected we are, how much we are dependent on others and how much of what we do affects others. Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now but yours,…” the Risen Christ is still alive through the witness that so many people are giving. Have I and can I continue to believe that and be that?
Lastly one thing that has screamed through the experience of this last year for me – time is a precious gift, don’t lose it and use it wisely!! A small example of this to finish.
I was on my way home one of the evenings and got a call from a friend who works in youth work, so I pulled over on the Belgard road to have a quick chat. It was obvious in the first 5 minutes he wanted to meet up. So, 15 minutes later, we both parked our cars side-by-side in the supermarket car park, rolled down the windows and started chatting. For about 40 minutes he just dumped and unloaded. Nothing really pressing or dramatic, but just talked about work, family, worries, etc. He wasn’t looking for advice, just an ear. He thanked me at the end and as he was leaving asked, “Can I book in for the same time next week?”.
Never underestimate the value of making time, or that little call, or short Whatsapp message to let someone know you are thinking of them or praying for them. Maybe the one little bit of learning that I hope we don’t lose from the last year is – No one is ever ‘too busy’ if they care and are interested, they’ll make time!
Frank Brown is a Parish Pastoral Worker, Archdiocese of Dublin.