A few days ago, 23rd March, I posted on my Facebook page a reflection entitled “Pandemic”. It was prepared by Lynn Ungar and appeared on the website Gratefulness.org. It began by saying:
What if you thought of it (this Lockdown time)
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Many things have been said and written over these last few weeks about making the most of this time, about howour current circumstances are like a retreat, a time to get closer to God and to allow God to get closer to us.
A retreat can be a time to become more human, to be more at peace with ourselves, more in tune with God, with others and with our bodies. While we did not look for these days of enforced isolation, or remaining in our bubbles, and while they may be challenging and difficult days, they are may also be an opportunity.
In these days there are some wonderful resources, beautiful, and challenging reflections and prayers being circulated. They will only be wonderful, challenging and beautiful if we can find the time to pause and reflect, to stay still and let the words speak to our hearts and minds. I have a concern that there are so many liturgies being live streamed that many of us will just sit and watch, and possibly will not be engaged. Looking at another device, even if it is something holy, will not necessarily bring us closer to God. Watching a Mass will not necessarily touch our hearts, inspire us, prompt us to put our own concerns aside and devote more time to prayer and growing closer to God. A question might be “Is this a moment of grace for me?”
We hear so much today about “devices,” people glued to devices on buses and in restaurants, parents worrying about how their families spend so much time with phones and tablets – and possibly children being concerned about their parents.
In this time of Lockdown do we see this as an opportunity for deeper prayer, not just watching a Mass being provided online? “Watching” does not always touch our hearts, inspire or uplift us. This could be a time to encourage one another to put down devices or links for a while, pause, and reflect with the scriptures of the day, or the silence that may come on our walks, a time to reflect on where we are with God.
We are about to enter Holy Week. These days are the days we focus on the mysteries of Jesus life-giving death and resurrection. This could be our greatest Easter, but only if we look for ways to be engaged prayerfully. This is a time to be creative and imaginative as we live these days. We are not able to gather for liturgy in large groups, or in small informal groups where we are physically close to each other, but we can pray.
This virus may be a blessing: we might re-discover prayer in a whole new way. Whatever prayer you engage in over these days and weeks allow God to make it a time of grace, a time to be touched by the Spirit of God and not just to passively watch on a screen or device.
The reflection I referred to at the beginning went on to say:
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
Whatever way we pray over these days, if our bodies become still, if we are inspired to reach out with our hearts, and if we know that we are connected with all of Gods people in ways that are terrifying and beautiful…then we will know are actually praying.
Be kind, and know that you are all in my prayers and thoughts during these days.
With every good wish and blessing