Lockdown, not so bad after all

Our lives seem to be at a standstill at the moment. Most of us, if not all, feel as if we are under house arrest. We get bored in the confines of our own homes, not being able to take walks, go to a neighbour’s house, meet up or visit a friend. We cannot go to church or even attend funerals. I doubt there would be any wedding ceremonies at such a bad time. We are indeed struggling to find things to keep us entertained and sane in our homes. It all seems like a nightmare.

But there are positive things to this lockdown. It is not all doom and gloom. Since lockdown started and because I am far away from home, my family and I call each other every other day. In a conversation with one of my aunts, she pointed out how this whole pandemic could have a positive impact on the well-being of society. Soldiers are deployed to every community and this could significantly reduce the crime rate.

I had not looked at it that way. In rural communities, as well as in cities, crime could be reduced because everyone is expected to be in their own homes. Since no one is walking the streets, and if there could be soldiers on the streets in every town, city, and rural community, we could have a significant drop in the crime rate in the country. This would mean fewer hijackings, rapes, robberies and brutal killings of women and children in our country. Something positive!

In my home town, most families pray together in the evening. The boys often come home late because they are still out checking on their girlfriends or hanging out with friends at that time. My aunt mentioned how these days it is easier to do evening prayers. Everyone is always at home and my brothers do not need to be reminded of the time. This made me laugh. God does seem to work in mysterious ways. It took drastic measures – lockdown of the country – to get people to spend time with their families and to pray together. I am almost certain that my grandmother is smiling in heaven at seeing this kind of commitment.

Lockdown may have been implemented for the sake of our health, ensuring that we ‘socially distance’ ourselves from others. It does impact negatively on our economy. But there are also good things about it. May we recognise the good that has come out of this time of despair. Let us begin to teach ourselves to find hope even in the direst situations in our lives. May we begin to see the God that works in our lives even in times of apparent hopelessness. Let us look for God in all aspects of our lives, as St Ignatius puts it “finding God in all things”.

In these days, where meeting up with a friend is impossible and having enough airtime to call and have a soul-to-soul conversations is expensive, let us rather turn to the friend who is always ready to listen, God.

I am reminded of a song of by The Temptations “Soul to Soul”. To use its lyrics “We don’t have to be eye to eye (face to face), I’m not asking for miracles (nor saving grace), and I don’t need another heart (to have and hold), all I want is a friend I can talk to (soul to soul)”. We realise, in times like these, just how much we need that friend, someone to listen to what we carry in our hearts and what is weighing on our shoulders. Another thing we will have gained is a relationship with God.

Ms Nonto Thulile Mhlongo

Nonto Mhlongo works at the St Lucia Retreat and Training Centre giving retreats. She has completed the spiritual direction training programme with the Jesuit Institute.

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