In recent days I have found myself awake quite a bit when ordinarily sleep would have overtaken me. Thanks be to God; I sleep easily and well as a rule. You might or might not wonder or care why my sleep has been broken but I need to fill this page, so I am going to tell you anyway!
It is to do with this weekend really and the few days that have gone before, but mostly this weekend. I am worried about our return to church.
On this Sunday, many people will have returned to weekend Masses in churches and parishes all over Ireland. Ours is one such parish with four churches that serve as spiritual home to good and decent people. I am wondering how it will go.
Like many, I have spent weeks looking at empty seats and imagining what two metres distance between people looks like. I have helped and been helped to cordon off seats, put markers on floors, install sanitising dispensers and, all the while wonder how is this all going to work out.
Someone recently asked me “what phases you?” and the answer came easily:”All of this uncertainty.”
Like everyone else, I want our country to get back to normal – not this ‘new normal’ people speak about, but real normal where we are not afraid. I want us to say “God bless you” when someone sneezes and not feel they have launched a nuclear attack on us.
I want all ages to feel free about coming and going, visiting, laughing, being family and friends without restrictions or endless precautions.
This weekend is a step in that direction but a very small step and I am worried about the 51st person at the door of one of the churches in the parish who is told: “The church is full, sorry.”
Clicking a mouse is one thing, making the physical effort to be in church is another”
There is nothing in me that wants to leave anyone on the doorstep of a church, and I fear what this might do to people. I have tried to encourage people to consider coming to Mass on different days during the week and to spread out the attendance in that way. Until this weekend, there is no way of knowing how this is going to work out and that has been part of the restlessness I felt.
Another part of the restlessness, is around wondering will some people choose not to come back at all? Maybe they feel, they have managed fine without Mass or Church and that troubles me too. People are Church, churches were built by and for people and it is truly only when they are together, parish is fully alive. I am worried about this too and wonder where we will be as the story unfolds.
There has been a huge uptake on webcam Masses and, thankfully I have benefited and been kept sane through that presence with on average of 2,000 views of Sunday Masses and views in the hundreds of weekday Masses, but clicking a mouse is one thing, making the physical effort to be in church is another. I see both continuing but…well you know what I am saying at this stage, I am worried about this.
So, what do I do with the worry? Hand it over to God, it remains his Church and his people and at days’ end, he is there for us.
Ah, I sleep well most of the time. These days will pass. We can, we will and we must, get through this.
Wash your hands and just start once again!
I was chatting with a doctor recently about PPE. He told me how important it is and crucial that correct care is taken, not least in its removal and disposal.
Then he told me about someone training them in using it and this was the bit I liked. He said the man said to them: “If you are taking it off and make a mistake – just wash your hands and start again.”
Such simple advice and it goes beyond PPE, I think, to so many situations in life.
If we make a mistake, no, when we make a mistake, wash our hands, and start again.