Getting through or living through?

As we live through what might be the tail end of a middle stage of lockdown, there is an opportunity to ponder what has been learned, what challenges have been risen to for the better, what realties still need to be faced

I was told by a directee last week that I’d asked a really helpful question. I hadn’t realised I’d posed it, but I was told it is about distinguishing between ‘getting through and living through’ the current restrictions on life. I found it crystallised my thinking about how we are handling life within covid-19 limitations. 

We are all definitely beyond the first flush of living in this mode, the novelty worn off. The reality that all the binge series watching, sorting out of garden, photos, books, clutter etc was unlikely to be completed is sinking in.

New routines have been found, patterns of work and leisure, relationships and sustenance have become established and life has continued, for better and worse.  In South Africa where I was born and grew up, and where I was staying when the restrictions began to be imposed there and the UK the initial 3 weeks of restrictions (which included a ban on the sales of alcohol and cigarettes) meant that for many the stockpiles of liquor bought to enable their ‘getting through’ were depleted before the restrictions were extended for another month. Only last Monday was alcohol legally available again (the queues were enormous!) 

‘Getting through’ mentality often has a sense of grinning and bearing things, of knowing they will pass, so aspects of life are put on hold, questions deferred, all in anticipation of an end when things get back to ‘normal’. 

Our sense of what is ‘normal’ includes a significant chunk of illusion as is the illusion that a return to the old ways will be achieved. 

As we live through what might be the tail end of a middle stage of lockdown, there is an opportunity to ponder what has been learned, what challenges have been risen to for the better, what realties still need to be faced, and what, when restrictions of life are lifted is important to pick up again, and what from life under restrictions is worth holding on to. This is all about discerning where through this experience God’s Spirit is leading us into life.

At any stage of life, but particularly when there is a sense of the need to take stock, reappraise and do some discernment about life in order to find the way to live more in tune with the abundance of life that Jesus can to bring us, it is helpful to undertake a ‘review of life’. This sounds dramatic, but it can be a simple process and is frequently surprising for those that undertake it. ‘Now I understand…’ ‘Now I now what I need to do next…’ are common responses. 

It helps reveal ‘The Bright Field’ as described in RS Thomas’ wonderful poem drawing upon the parables of the kingdom, the pearl of great price etc to invite us to ponder what it is that is most important and calls us to devote everything to.  (The poem can be found here on YouTube or in text here)

This ‘Looking at my life’ exercise is part of the resources associated with my book on Ignatius of Loyola, and can be applied to looking at how life is under lockdown, as well as at life before lockdown, to help reflect on the things that have been gained and lost through these times. Asking God to ‘show me’ what in all this reveals about how you are being drawing into life. What aspects are in need of integration or reintegration into your life routines and patterns? What aspects of our mortality that covid-19 has aroused are we needing to face and befriend? What is ‘The Bright Field’ that has been revealed to us through these times? 

2 thoughts on “Getting through or living through?

  1. This article really resonated with me as I have been reflecting on this extraordinary time through the lens of Loss and Gain and am finding that for me it’s far more Gain than Loss. Just as a good film, book or play helps me see something in a totally fresh way so this stay at home, virtual attendance at many services world wide , etc, have been a powerful wake up call on a number of levels – what faith really means to me, how I relate to self, others, the planet etc. My concentration on the Word of God, I feel has definitely deepened and I have a heightened awareness of desiring what draws me into the liturgy rather than what excludes me.
    Finally in regard to Zoom and at home participation, I read somewhere recently in regard to Ascension day; “Ascension day is the day Jesus started to work from home.”
    So, thankfully, our new normal can never be the same again Alleluia.
    Nick I would have loved to be with you for those meetings in July but if things go to plan I should be in Ireland. If I cannot travel I will see if you have a spare place.
    What a gift your present mission is to us and the world. Thank you. Alice. What is your ordinary email? or do you prefer us just to comment under these sections?

    1. Thanks for this Alice – I love the idea of Jesus working from home!

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