With 2021 still in its baby shoes, most of us are glad 2020 is over. It was an unprecedented year to say the least. Millions of people got infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus. More than one million sadly died.
Governments the world over handled this virus in many different ways, although also quite similar in some ways. And unfortunately, this journey with the virus is not finished yet.
There are many negative things we can focus on, bad stuff that happened because (and not) of this virus. But, there are so many good things that was also a result of this extraordinary year. Some of these things we might even want to hold on to, when real normality starts again. So, why not focus on those.
At the start of the first lockdown – March 2020 in Ireland – the lockdown itself was almost a novelty. Most of us had never lived through something like this. We made lists of stuff we would do, practical things we would at last get some time for. Some of us started doing more creative and enjoyable things.
Crafty stuff such as tie-dye, knitting, crocheting, painting walls, rooms, doors, furniture. I even upcycled our kitchen cupboards while in lockdown, although it has to be said that was during the summer months when infections were low and spirits higher.
Some of us read more, maybe walked more, some people did courses to learn new things…
But, it is so important to know that even if you just got through the lockdown, that was an accomplishment in itself. Something you should be proud of.
Some good stuff to focus on
Zoom became the new skype. If you wanted to or not, you were almost forced to work with Zoom. Almost everyone now knows how to use it; students, working from home, doing school online, any meeting, meeting up with family members living in different parts of the world, even choir …. Zoom was the thing to learn to stay in contact. I really hope this will continue in the future, not only in the foreseeable future, but also when we have the old normality back. Maybe not for choir practices ….
We became innovative. Many local shops and businesses felt almost compelled to have an online presence, for example Vokes in Adare and Silkes Art & Crafts in Limerick. This helped everyone to support local businesses and especially over Christmas time many people were keen to support Irish products. Like Lough Gur pottery and Agi Magi, a jewellery business in Galway. Innovative people started thinking outside the box by giving online classes, opening online shops on websites or on Etsy like Bitsbyrie started by my daughter. That was so positive.
All kinds of online classes appeared. To be fair there were already many things to learn online, like yoga, ballet, a new language, how to paint, to bake bread and so forth, but now new ones or improved ones made an appearance to especially help against getting low during lockdown.
Also, gyms, churches and many music and art classes went online. Services and classes were done within the comfort of your own home. Very comfortable indeed.
It is a fact that music in whatever form goes beyond borders and binds us as one, gives us courage and brings us together. During lockdown so many choirs had performed online or got people singing together online.
I sing with a wonderful choir, Ancór. We have an annual Christmas concert, but this time did a recording, socially distanced and masked while singing in a cold car park in aid of Focus Ireland. (See the link below) Many different artists also performed in a variety of venues without an audience. Like Other Voices’ Courage who delivered four uplifting concerts in May in the National Gallery of Ireland’s Shaw Room, including Limerick’s Denise Chaila’s performance.
In situations like these we suddenly come to realise how vulnerable we are, how not in control we are. We become aware of what really matters. Because, while the pandemic is still very much alive, life is not on hold, no one has pressed the pause button. We still need to carry on. Very much so. We have to trust God is still in control of this world.
That is why, although we have to accept this pandemic, it is important to be gentle with ourselves. To carry on with living, focusing on the things that are worthwhile.
I think this poem by John O’Donohue is very apt during this time. It might help to remember good things and times will happen again. From To Bless the Space Between Us : A book of blessings.
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
Stay safe and look after each other.