The potential of uncertainty

John Din holding a Globe, during the walk for life. - Photo: John DinJohn Din holding a Globe, during the walk for life. - Photo: John Din

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt. Up until then, nobody thought it would be possible to stop people from travelling, working, organizing, attending events etc. It was worse still, at the global level. Well, this virus, with a mass of 0.1 mg, did indeed plunge the world into chaos.

During the pandemic, almost all pastoral ministries stopped. Regular meetings, conventions and seminars were abruptly called off. It left people in a state of anxiety and chaos. What do we do now? Suddenly, we were faced with the most important question: what is essential to life? It’s not just about what, but more importantly, who is essential. Suddenly, the farmers came to the top of the list, followed by the health workers, service providers etc.

One ministry that I am involved in most of my time is the Laudato Si' Movement Pilipinas. We used to gather regularly with partner organisations to plan activities promoting the Pope’s encyclical in the context of the climate emergency. This was greatly affected by the pandemic. The pandemic forced us to rethink new ways of engaging with people and issues.

We started gathering online using the Zoom platform to connect and pray together for the Earth and the Global Health Crisis. What we thought was just a brief test of gathering online became a regular online meeting every Friday. The pandemic hastened and sharpened people’s ability to adapt to the new platforms of engaging with others online or through virtual events. From the regular prayer for the front-liners, the meeting became a platform to organise online events to celebrate major events of the year like the Laudato Si' Week and the Season of Creation.

During the Season of Creation (September 1 to October 4), we were able to have a daily reflection organised by different groups/sectors around the country until the second Sunday of October (the Indigenous People’s Sunday). Looking back, I still wonder how we were able to manage it.

The pandemic years were indeed a time of great chaos and uncertainty. Yet it also provided the momentum to re-think and explore new ways of doing things. The online platform enabled us to connect with groups/organisations in remote areas around the country seemingly unreachable before. The limits of physical distancing did not quell the human desire to engage and connect. It was in the online platform and during the pandemic, that the struggles of different sectors, from fisher folks, farmers, women, and the indigenous people were brought to the fore.

During the three years of the pandemic, in an apparent state of chaos and uncertainty, we were surprised at how we reached and engaged with more people compared to the years since the 2016 foundation of Global Catholic Climate Movement Pilipinas (now the Laudato Si’ Movement Pilipinas). It was in that chaos and uncertainty that the spirit of creativity gave birth to new ways of looking at reality and ways of doing ministry.

Columban lay missionary John Din lives and works in the Philippines.

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