Life online: Here’s how it became a good story
It”. Not only the name of a Stephen King novel it’s what we’ve been dealing with over the last year.
Coronavirus is our “It”.
Whether it be in matters of faith, work, or study, we’ve been locked up, locked down, locked out, and gone online.
How have we coped with “It”?
“Don’t have too many days alone,” says Marie Hargraves, 90, of Canberra.
She has her iPad and a diminishing circle of friends and she says she’s blessed to have her family close by since she lost Brian, her husband of 63 years.
She doesn’t drive and has nobody to drive her and she’s grateful she can use her computer to access daily online Mass services.
“They [online Masses] have been fantastic,” she says.
This pleases Fr Trenton van Reesch.
The Administrator of the St Christopher’s Cathedral parish is at the forefront of daily Mass services for a digital audience.
He sees online masses as a gift to the Archdiocese, especially for the ill, the elderly, and for helping to bring back those who had not been active in the church.
Saying Masses in front of a camera was nerve-racking at first, he says but once he settled ‘into the moment’ all was fine.
Being in front of a camera is one thing but schooling in front of a classroom is another for Claire Egan-Richards, year one teacher at Sacred Heart Primary School Canberra.
She had never had to work as hard as she had during the lockdown with some students in the classroom and others at home.
“But we discovered a lot from remote learning,” she says.
“Our message of hope was that we all truly realised and valued our community. The students wanted to come back to school. We had something special and we missed it. We really missed it.”
There’s a message of hope, too, in the bush where life online has presented its own set of trials.
Teena McGrath and her husband Dermott along with their teenagers Marty, Rory and Majella, work the family sheep farm between Yass and Boorowa.
The lockdown was a crazy time for Mum who learnt much about the uneasy fit between the on-land and online worlds.
With little time for her own work, she’s had to battle bad internet connections and insistent questions from her stay-at-home scholars about equations or spelling.
Then there’s dealing with the inevitable demands of life on a farm.
“Where are you going?” says Mum.
“Gotta help dad move the sheep.”
And Teena found the clan wasn’t sheepish when it came to taking a break for their constantly urgent nutritional needs.
“It always seemed to be lunch time around here!”
But despite the tribulations, she says, on reflection, being together was a beautiful time for the family.
‘Being together’ is a sentiment shared by Ross Fox.
The Director of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese’s 56 schools says digital interactions are helpful but they can’t replicate the human experience of being with others especially, in his case, when it comes to the Archdiocese’s education communities.
He says they’ve shown hope is not a “treacly” concept but one with real meaning.
“We’re so fortunate to have people filled with hope doing something really worthwhile.”
It’s an old dog but have we taught this new “it” new tricks?
Put real flesh and blood back on its bones: faith, community and being together.
Hope. It’s a good story.
A story about “It”.