As this year has progressed, Summer has sparkled like a pinprick of light at the end of a very long tunnel. Summer will be different. Summer will be special. Summer means freedom and sunshine and travelling further than five kilometres and being together at the end of a difficult year.
When my boys were younger, grocery shopping almost always felt like a painful ordeal. Shopping with a four-year-old and a one year old in tow was highly stressful and fraught with difficulty. I remember my best shopping days back then, however, were when complete strangers would let me push in on the supermarket line or when they would entertain my boys while I concentrated on paying the bill.
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘peace be with you!’” (John 20:19)
Our lives have changed dramatically since COVID-19 spread across the globe. The virus has damaged many aspects of our lives. The pandemic has brought us to a dark place. We have become frightened, isolated and even stopped us from seeing the good in others.
“Fratelli tutti”. With these words, Saint Francis of Assisi addressed his brothers and sisters and proposed to them a way of life marked by the flavour of the Gospel. This saint of fraternal love, simplicity and joy, who inspired me to write the encyclical “Laudato Si’”, prompts me once more to devote this new encyclical to fraternity and social friendship. Francis felt himself a brother to the sun, the sea and the wind, yet he knew that he was even closer to those of his own flesh. Wherever he went, he sowed seeds of peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the infirm and the outcast, the least of his brothers and sisters. (par 1-2)
If I were to describe my experience in lockdown with my husband and six children in a not overly large house, I would call it “crowded isolation”. So much of 2020 has been spent negotiating space. Space to play and space to study. Space to be noisy and space to keep quiet (daddy’s on the phone). Do you want to build with Lego or play a boardgame? Clear a space. Want me to sit with you on the couch? Budge up! Make some space. Want to wrestle? Go outside. There’s no space for that here.