I asked our walking groups what practices they would choose to retain out of this lockdown period?
There is a whole gamut of experiences and we are so fortunate to be living in Sydney. Health care is good quality and accessible, housing is enjoyed by most (but fewer than before), social systems care for many of our vulnerable people (with some tragic gaps) and the spread of ‘the virus’ has been relatively contained. Some people have enjoyed this time to retreat and be at home, living more gently in a usually fast-paced city. Time to catch up with those in our households is a mixed blessing – for some it’s precious family time – for others a further strain on tense relationships.
Neighbourliness has been a big winner. It has given us the opportunity, and the responsibility, to watch out for our immediate neighbours. And they are generally home these days! The joy of new and re-established social connections has come in many other ways too. Children are calling and caring for their elderly relatives again. Strangers are more apt to smile at each other on footpaths. Families are out walking and playing together in far greater numbers than before. Walking trails are well-utilised with people appreciating the delights of the natural environment. Letters are being posted again. A new awareness of local business and the wisdom of buying locally-produced goods is happening. Different groups are working together for the first time to act for the benefit of the severely disaffected.
Learning new skills through online courses has brought joy to many. From arts and crafts to study, learning a new musical instrument or singing in an online choir, doing home-based fitness and honing new skills for re-entering the work force, these new activities will continue to bring joy, new friendships and benefits into the future.
Many have suffered great loss over this period – and there will be more to come. Let us come alongside those we know and help where we can. Our own mental health is important too, so take time to reflect on some positive takeaways and keep them happening.
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." (From The NLT Bible, Colossians 3:15)
The very different Mother’s Day we are about to experience brings its meaning into sharp focus. The warm hugs and kisses between generations of loved ones will be exchanged for calls over electronic devices. Restaurant visits are likely to be replaced with home-cooked meals of varying qualities. Many gifts will be delivered by strangers to our doors in an attempt to convey love from a distance. So what really matters to Mum anyway?
Speaking as a mother of three young adult children and their two partners, it is about having their loving attention for a while. If they carve some time out of their day to be ‘with’ me in some way, tell me about their lives and take an interest in mine, I am pleased. The hugs, kisses, cards and thoughtful presents are icing on the cake. The lovingly home-cooked meal is the cherry on top! But they all boil done to one key attribute to me: they love me and want to continue to share their lives with me.
Mother’s Day is a focal time for this to happen, and like Christmas, there is a sense of loss if it doesn’t. I will miss the delight of having our children all in one place interacting well together, and joining in with games of overly competitive table tennis after lunch! However, let’s not overstate its importance. It is the constancy of relationships that matters most. To be acknowledged just on Mother’s Day means little. Being a part of each other’s lives through the ups and downs is of far greater importance.
Children, do your best to show love to Mum this Mother’s Day. She will gratefully recognise your intention. But remember there are another 364 days this year to maintain and build that precious relationship, which will touch her heart much more with its sincerity.
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.