COVID-19 fatigued? Wait in hope and trust
Recently, listening to Agency leaders in the Archdiocese, I was struck by two common threads. First, our wider staff are truly making a heroic response to the “multiple pandemics” we are confronting at present. Secondly, they are really fatigued! “And so say all of us”! For many, it feels more like early December than mid-year.
By “multiple pandemics” I mean the human fallout of both the bushfire and the Covid-19 tragedies. There are so many issues of mental health, homelessness and a real pandemic of loneliness in our midst.
I want to thank most sincerely the army of people who are helping the many who are really suffering in different ways in the strange times we now live. There is much courage and compassion shown to them.
But perhaps the fatigue issue is something we ought to focus on as well. Our faith has much to say about this.
Jesus, fatigued from the demands of his ministry, retired from the crowds and “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5/16). There are two aspects to this. Not only did he make practical decisions to retire from the crowd for a time, but he also prayed in a manner that refreshed him for his ministry amongst us.
Let us do the same.
So there is first a practical dimension. We need practically to find the time, place and decision to retire for a time from the demands of our life and begin to pray.
There is no lack of help in this area of life. Often borrowing from our Christian heritage, some enterprising secular groups are making profitable businesses out of this need. Sometimes called “Mindfulness”, they advertise to help the fatigued by offering techniques and environments whereby instruction can be offered.
Although most of these techniques have some merit, they can only go so far. Without a direct religious input, these enterprises offer some “know-how”. But true inner rest and hope arise from taking the matter further – into the divine initiative.
I am reminded of the beautiful teaching of St Teresa of Avila, the great Sixteenth Century Spanish Carmelite mystic. She described her inner life as “a plant of slow growth needing a lot of watering.”
How did St Teresa describe the quest of finding living and refreshing water for the inner life? She offered four steps.
The first step in getting water was to use a bucket. Using a bucket and drawing water from the well and then taking it to the garden was an initial way, albeit quite demanding of human effort.
Secondly, a better way was using a pump. It was not as time-consuming as the bucket but still requiring some effort.
The third step was to use irrigation. Here the human effort was minimal. It was efficient and effective.
However, the fourth step was simply this: waiting for rain!
Did you notice that the deeper St Teresa’s spiritual life moved the more it was dependent on divine initiative and less on human effort?
The waiting for rain requires nothing more than waiting in hope and trust.
This type of waiting does not come without inner conversion and even suffering. So much in our lives wants us to take control. Leaving control of our lives to Jesus is a great challenge. We can certainly help by humanly finding the time and place to prayer and rest our wearied souls. But this is only a means to the heavenly end.
Ultimately, waiting in hope and trust is the only true way of resting in the Resurrection – the source of all inner refreshment and joy.
Let us recall Jesus’ own words: “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest …. You will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11/28,29)
Are you Covid-19 fatigued? Then wait for the rain to come in hope and trust!