Lessons in Lockdown?

Published on 27 Nov 2020
Preserved autumn leaves

by Friends of St Beuno's

The pandemic year that we have all lived through has surely had its unique challenges and sufferings for each of us. But perhaps also there have been unexpected gifts and graces, even lessons as we have recognised God’s presence and invitation to us in some way during this time? As a way of providing some mutual support and encouragement, some of the Friends have been sharing their experiences in our Facebook group online. This month, we share some responses with you in the hope that they inspire and console you wherever and however you are.

Our accompanying photo is courtesy of Teresa Kennedy who explains:

‘While walking these past days among the wonderfully coloured leaves from the assortment of trees around , I longed to preserve the memory of them in some way as I think good memories that we have continue to give us life especially in these somewhat dark days, and I had an idea! I picked a collection, dried and pressed them and now they adorn our nest of tables under the glass topping!’

Maybe there are lessons or gifts from this time that we ourselves would like to preserve and keep close to us in some way?

The experience of this second lockdown, for those of us in England, has felt different from the first requiring us to perhaps dig a bit deeper for spiritual support. Teresa McCaffery describes how:

‘The onset of winter with its dark days and long nights has reduced the benefits of lockdown in spring to a distant memory.  Like the bridesmaids in the parable my lamp has gone out and I search for a spare supply of spiritual oil.  Unable to go back to St Beuno’s for more I draw on reserves I laid down during my thirty-day retreat under the meticulous guidance of Alan Harrison.

A heightened sense of living in the love of God and being in the right place supports the day to day work of parish and home.  I deal more constructively with disappointment and conflict and I have slipped into the habit of starting the day with morning prayer because it is streamed live from church (a continuing COVID benefit).’

For several people a real gift has been finding a new, personal rhythm of prayer in their daily lives at home.

For many, a lesson from the lockdown has been their revaluing of the gift of the outdoors – weather permitting! - and of meeting God in creation. Artist Karen Curnock writes that as well as being absorbed in making her beautiful fused-glasswork, a blessing for her in this time has been ‘being able to gaze at the sea and get in touch with the deep longing for God within.’

A few also shared the discovery - like Ignatius on his sickbed - that the unexpected gift of time following restrictions actually allowed for a reconsidering of their commitments and priorities. Franki Gifts talks of experiencing a transformation during this time:

‘Since the first lockdown in March, I had much more time on my hands, and I took the opportunity to use that time on what I would call my spiritual journey. The whole pace of my life slowed down significantly, I’m self-employed and unable to continue my business because of the virus. At first I had the normal fears and uncertainties about how I would live, how my income would be affected etc, but I was happy to spend my spare time reading and praying and meditating and this has become my new way of life! I’ve been able to really concentrate my attention on prayer and literature and right action, deepening my commitment to learning and transforming my mind to be connected to the Holy Spirit in everyday life.

Many of my friends have felt the same transformation taking place too, thankful of the chance to work less, think of others more, and change their order of priorities. Like not getting caught in the media’s fearmongering (as well as giving us the facts) but doing what we can to help those we can and accepting the unfolding of the events of this pandemic with God’s strength and love as our focus and inspiration. I know if I had carried on with my normal work over the summer, I would not have had time to do this and for that I am truly grateful. My life has changed, my faith has deepened in the most beautiful way; life is sweet and I know it always will be.’

Without denying the stresses and pain experienced by so many, one cannot help but wonder at what God has been doing during this time and at the seeds that have been sown.

If something has resonated or you would like to share something of your own experience of this year, you are very welcome to join our private Friends of St Beuno’s group online, or write to me at: [email protected]

Tim McEvoy

Coordinator of the Friends of St Beuno’s