When I was asked to write about lessons I learned from the pandemic, my first response was: “In under 5000 words, correct?” My limit was 500, so here’s the short version.

Lesson 1 – We are Deeply Connected

I have experienced communities rally together in a time of crisis. I have also witnessed nations unite to help those suffering famine or natural disaster. But nothing in my experience nor in my study of history can compare to the way in which the world has responded to this virus.

There is nothing new about our connection to others. The decisions we make in one part of the world have always affected people on the other side of the globe. What has changed is our awareness of that reality. St. Paul had it right. We are a Body. When one part suffers, the entire body suffers. (1 Cor 12.26)

Lesson 2 – We are Social Beings

My ministry during the pandemic has been to call parishioners. Consistently I have heard this. People miss each other. People miss gathering with friends. People miss talking to each other in the grocery store. People miss Church. Even the introverts are beginning to suffer – even if it took a little while for THAT to happen. From the beginning of creation, God made us for one another and it is becoming clear to many that there is a looming mental health crisis on the horizon and at least part of this is because “it is not good for us to be alone!” (Gen 2.18)

Lesson 3 – People are Astonishing

My heart has been full as I have watched the ways in which people have shown generosity, creativity, kindness and exceptional bravery during this time. It has been astonishing to watch people sew thousands of face masks and give them away for free, to paint rocks with messages of kindness and leave them all over town, to work day and night sacrificing their lives to tend to the sick. I have even been astonished by our Canadian politicians who were able to put aside significant differences and work for the common good. If I’m being honest, I have also been astonished by the level of selfishness, culpable ignorance and opportunism that arises at times such as these. But mostly, I have been astonished by people’s ability to be profoundly good.

This rock garden near Centennial Park in Etobicoke, ON continues to grow on a daily basis.

Lessons 4 – We Needed to Slow Down

So many of the families I called told me they were filled with gratitude for the forced slow down of their lives – no more running around seven days a week dropping children off at this or that activity. Many have rediscovered the joy of being at home – cooking, reading, baking bread, playing board games. Many also discovered that when you stop going to the gym and sit at home binge watching Netflix, eating your freshly baked loaf of bread, your clothes start to shrink and so, they discovered walking again.

The lessons I learned in this pandemic could fill a book. These are my top four… and I did it in 511 words!

Christine Way Skinner is a Lay Pastoral Associate at St. John Chrysostom Parish in Newmarket, ON. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Theology degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. Christine is the author of the Catholic Kid’s Library Series, What Catholics Believe, There Must be a Pony in Here Somewhere, and the newly released, The Joy of Keeping the Faith.

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