Pandemic: the ugly and the beautiful

Fr Dominic
Parish Priest

This is an unexpected and enforced period of adjustment that we need to use for reflection. When this pandemic began I saw it as a problem for China but then slowly, possibly too slowly, realised that it was a worldwide and catastrophic deadly virus. How did we react? I remember the exhortation to stop shaking hands, not touching your face, washing your hands frequently and for longer time.

Then in the church no hymn books or missals. All seemed manageable but then the increase in deaths, in infection rates and the mood changed; people began to empty the supermarkets then the lockdown, the schools and churches closed. Millions of vulnerable people received letters telling them not to go out. The panic buying increased and, it seems, some people could not abide by the staying at home and social distancing rules. Conspiracy theories abounded and many people were becoming very anxious. People were laid off work, airlines stopped flying, public transport was deserted. We are now warning about ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ in many of the front line workers. A bad time!

Yet a number of very beautiful things have also occurred during this time. When I ring some of my more vulnerable parishioners they tell me of great acts of kindness from their neighbours. Shopping being done, phone calls being made, help offered on all fronts. Even though our Foodbank use has increased by over 300 per cent the number of volunteers has increased by more than that and the volume of food given has increased exponentially.

Charities have stepped up to the plate and the generosity of so many people has been overwhelming. The desire to help, to reach out and to be available is very humbling. So many of our parishioners are nurses, doctors, care workers, supermarket workers, frontline staff and are putting the patients, residents and the public first. In my prayers I find myself being so moved by these heroes who are usually on minimum wages reaching out and being there for the most vulnerable, that I wonder will we look at our priorities differently when this pandemic has passed?