Padres offer tips

Chaplain’s Corner

The Courier invited 4 Wing Cold Lake padres to write about their thoughts during challenging times. Two chapels on base have been closed for services, but padres are available by phone.

Padre Megan Jones

Many Christians around the world are observing the Season of Lent. A time of spiritual reflection, confession and fasting. But like many of my Christian brothers and sisters, I never could have imagined this year’s Lenten practices would involve giving up so much. We have all been called upon to practice social distancing to lessen the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. School programming are suspended, until further notice, many of us are teleworking from home, community events and religious gatherings are either postponed or cancelled.

And while we are called to self-isolate or practice self-isolation, many may be unsure of what the next few weeks will bring. Albeit the circumstances, there is a sense of community blossoming even within this isolation. Social media groups have popped up overnight, focused on co-ordinating help for members of our community who are more vulnerable to the virus. “Caremongering” has spread across the country with community members volunteering to pick up groceries, medication and even coveted toilet paper for their elderly neighbours or those with underlying medical conditions. Neighbours who might never have said hello before COVID-19, are checking in on each other. People are coming out to support local restaurants who have had to implement new take-out and pick-up options in order to stay open during these challenging times.

While there have been cases of self-centeredness and hoarding, there has also been an outpouring of compassion, love and support. Even the very act of social distancing is an act of love – love for the vulnerable in our community and our health care workers. Because we’re all in this together and that’s what community is all about.

Padre Andrew Whitman

The measures of social distancing, for the sake of slowing the transmission of the virus, might of had the side effect of sending us spinning on the home front. In some ways and for some, it may have turned our whole way of life on its head, by closing or suspending programming for many of the institutions our families depend on – particularly daycares and schools. In some cases, even our livelihood has shut down to prevent working in close quarters or serving the public. We may be left asking ourselves how we can stay at home, take care of our families, and still put food on the table.
It sinks deeper than that too, beneath the practical questions to the matter of identity: we find a sense of purpose in the work we do outside the home. How can we continue to be useful, to make a meaningful contribution to society, if we are stuck in our living rooms?

Ironically, we may be asking the question entirely backwards. In her book Total Truth, Nancy Percy offers a captivating picture of home life before the industrial revolution (i.e. the bulk of human history for the bulk of humanity). The home she envisions can be illustrated in the life of Corrie ten Boom even, in 20th century Holland: Her father was a watch maker, with the shop in the front and the family home in the back and upper storeys. Both parents worked from home; both took part in the family business and contributed and exercised their personal skills and abilities; both parents cared for the children, and moved seamlessly from household chores to ‘professional’ duties.

Our modern society is not necessarily designed for that kind of home life. Though Percy explains our remarkable journey from this to the norm of working outside the home (you would do better reading her book) and argues that this has led to an artificial separation of family from work. So, maybe it’s us who have things backwards, and we can take this opportunity to rediscover an ancient work-family balance.

Padre Oliver Edwards

In the last week the world has changed. There is no denying that in the span of our lifetimes nothing has had such a daily impact like the COVID-19 virus. Perhaps for the first time, in a hundred years, the whole world is taking the spread of a disease so seriously and changing ways of life to avoid its spread.

In the long view, what we are facing could be perceived as relatively minor. Very few of us were alive the last time a disease took root in a community or region and left a trail of death and suffering behind it. What we face today primarily affects everyone, those who have travelled, those with weakened immune systems, with some experiencing flu symptoms or not. Still, that does not mean it should not be taken seriously for all.
One of the first enemies or threat in a situation like this could be fear. What will we do with fear? Will we allow it to drive us to acts of selfishness and protectiveness? Will we allow it to colour our reasoning, falling prey to misinformation? Will we be driven by it to make decisions rashly potentially affecting our present or future?

One writer from the 1st Century said, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18) This statement rings especially truly in light of the events of the least few weeks. We have seen men and women, motivated by love for humanity, step into places like Wuhan and treat the sick when they had no idea how bad the coronavirus was, how contagious it was, how dangerous it was. The health care workers there and around the world who travelled to help are examples of love that we should be inspired by. Our health care workers at home are stepping up in similar ways to prepare for what we all hope won’t be, but might still be if the virus does begin to infect large numbers of immunocompromised people here at home. That love is inspiring. It deserves to be spread as far and fast as any virus.

But we have also seen the opposite be true. The run on toilet paper of all things has shown us the darker side of fear. When fear, morphs into panic, and drives some to conclude that hoarding is the only answer. “I must protect myself,” is the cry of fear in this moment. “I must keep what I need for me only, or those close to me only.” Only, there is no shortage of trees to make toilet paper from. There are no paper mills which have been shut by coronavirus infections. This is a shortage that is only happening because fear is driving some people to selfishness.

I am sure by the time of this publication, there will literally be hundreds of lists, thinkpieces and articles all telling you what to do to prepare yourself and your family for the changes the world is making to end this pandemic. I am here encouraging you to work on one thing: love. Love your neighbour at this time. Love your neighbour next door, love your co-worker, and love your fellow Albertans and Saskatchewanites. Love your fellow Canadians. Love the Chinese, who felt the virus’s impact first. Love Italians and Koreans who are struggling, Iranians who may know or are related to someone dealing with it firsthand, and without the backing of a world-class health care system like ours. Love people from all over the world who do not live in strong economies, who when the economic ripple of empty streets and quarantines take hold, will be poorer or out of work without a safety net. Don’t let fear drive you inward. Don’t let it turn you away from humanity. Let your love cast out fear.