Exit lockdown

Fear might be a common word as we begin to consider the long exit out of lockdown. I wonder if there will be a fear to go back into stores, to take off masks or to cross social distances. Will some fear that the vaccine isn’t full proof. A year of disciplined caution in how we live will take some time to undo.

My biggest fear is a spiritual one. In all the hardships of the Coronavirus Year it has brought with it opportunities. We have been given a time to stop, to breathe, to reassess and to reboot. In the midst of the tragic deaths, the mental health crisis and the pressures on health, education and the economy there has been perhaps a grace moment within it all. 

In his book Let Us Dream, that I review elsewhere, the Pope wrote, “In every personal ‘covid’, so to speak, in every ‘stoppage’ what is revealed is what needs to change; our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected.” 

What needs to change? We have been released for an enforced period from the clutter and fuss of what Marilynne Robinson calls the “joyless urgency”. I believe that in this Coronavirus retreat there are myriads of lessons invitingly hanging in the air. Are we going to grab them or are these sacred moments going to vanish, wasted.

That is my fear. Had we only had six weeks it would have been difficult not to just snap back into “old normal” but we have now been gifted enough time to conjure and hone a brand “new different”. It would be a sinful tragedy if we just go back.

I am thinking about my pre Coronavirus busyness, the clutter that distracted my life from love and family, the lazy lure of consumerism as some kind of pick me up, the time spent in a car or plane and the environmental price, where the ambition of our lives are directed, our human arrogance giving way to dependence on God. 

So many things. We hope that the time to ponder, to repent, to rebirth is shortening ahead of us. The time to act is now urgent. I fear I will miss it. I fear we will miss it. I fear the “old normal”. Please God focus our hearts and souls and minds. 


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