Earlier this month I was asked by ‘Aleteia’, a Catholic magazine, to write a letter to young people. This is what I wrote:
We are the generation who will have spent the highest proportion of our lives being affected by the pandemic, and as the countries of the world start to emerge from the effects of successive lockdowns, we can start to think about how our lives will be altered going forward.
But first we need to look back at the past year, and consider where we have seen the finger of our Lord writing on the canvas of our lives. For me the last twelve months have been a challenge as I have been shielding and unable to attend school, with school work reduced to boring worksheets and not seeing my friends in person for months which makes me feel lonely; but they have also brought great opportunities for learning new things about myself and my faith.
During the first lockdown there was a lot of uncertainty as the concept of the pandemic and its consequences were so new and unknown. But one of the most dangerous things gripping people was fear. It invaded our mental health and paralysed our ability to live well. So during spring last year I started a discipline of writing something I was grateful for each day, which I posted on Twitter under the hashtag #ThankfulNotFearful. Having set myself the challenge I wasn’t sure I would be able to find different things to be thankful for every day, especially as not much was happening, but I found the exercise humbling. Connections with friends near and far on zoom, baking with my sisters and the beauty of the countryside I live in, meant at the end of a day I always had a lot to choose from to tweet about. Our Lord’s goodness and generosity are infinite.
September saw my friends all return to school, whilst I remained at home with no online lessons – alone again. Now the risk for me wasn’t fear, but resentment. The gnawing, bitter feeling of missing out. As winter set in, it was easy to always be thinking about a time in the future when life would be more normal, when winter would turn to spring. But I realised that to wish away the time we are in is to miss the value and lessons each season brings. Contentment lies in living in the moment we’re in, with our hearts open to our Lord, and with schedules stripped bare of extra activities and the time to travel to them there is more time to enjoy being together as a family: long walks, film nights and board games. Winter has a unique beauty of its own.
Whatever the lessons of your past year have been, we can all testify to the life giving, constant goodness of our Lord, who carries us through the hard times in His loving arms. Having experienced this in our youth we will be prepared for a life full of trust in our saviour. This is my prayer for us.
Your loving brother in Jesus,