Over the Christmas and New Year period, I was stuck in Queensland and could not return to Victoria because of border restrictions. Like most people, I was frustrated because my plans had been upended. On the other hand, I was surprised to realise that this quieter time was also a time of blessings.
I could not go back to my office to work so I had some time on my hands.
I read a couple of novels that had been recommended to me. They were right for the time. Both authors were speaking about the importance of silence in our everyday lives. Both spoke of our connectedness to each other and to nature. Being quiet and listening to nature was a big theme.
One of the authors spoke of electricity coming to the west of Ireland. As the light was switched on, the main character in the book is struck by how being connected to a regular source of power and life-giving energy reflects the deep truth of our lives. For me he spoke of our being in God and of the love of God always reaching out to us. God is always switched on.
The summer was also full of terrible stories all over the world, including countries where Columbans are working. The Coronavirus wreaked havoc in Latin America, Japan, China, the United States and the United Kingdom. Stories about the vaccines that were being developed gave hope that we would be free of the pandemic eventually, but that did not prevent us from feeling helpless as we listened to the news and watched what was happening on TV.
What we were urged to do, and most of us probably did, in some fashion, was to pray. It requires faith to believe in prayer! What was it like for us as we prayed for the victims of the pandemic?
Often prayer comes to us naturally when things are particularly difficult. Of course, the opposite can also be true. When we feel down and depressed, praying may be the last thing that we feel like doing.
However, if God’s love is like the energy of electricity, what are the implications for us? God’s love, like electricity, is always there (unless we have blackouts!) All we have to do is turn on the switch and open our minds and hearts to God. This is a prayer in itself. When we turn our attention to God, the power of God's love flows into all of us, just like the power grid. We are all connected.
So, I come to my conclusion:
Let us pray not only because it is good for us but also so that the healing, the forgiving power of God, will flow to all people, to the whole of creation.
We are not powerless in the face of the pandemic.
We are connected to the power of the resurrection.
We are connected to the power of the Holy Spirit through our prayer.
It is the Spirit that renews the face of the earth and will do so forever.
Such prayer is missionary prayer. It recognises that God is the source of all mission and that we are participating in it by our prayer.
Today I am grateful for the gifts that you bestow.
They are different from a year ago when mobility, activity, and social life were full and energizing.
These days, my gratitude is for the basics. That there is food, and shelter and neighbours and friends. Life is slower during this pandemic but there is plenty to appreciate among the blessings shown each day.
May we be more aware of God's goodness and blessings even in times of change and scarcity.
Let us make this prayer in the Light and Peace of Jesus Christ.
Written by a Columban Missionary
Fr Trevor Trotter
Regional Director of Oceania