Hope in Lockdown and Beyond
One of the consequences of lockdown during this pandemic is the effect on people’s sense of wellbeing and mental health. For those involved in offering support through helplines, charitable services or simply through being a good friend and neighbour, the message often conveyed is one of fragility, anxiety and depression. There can be very real loss, perhaps of a loved one through contracting the virus, or intense worry about the risk of infection, and the fear of such an outcome.
“I feel there is no hope” or “I don’t see the point in going on” are sometimes the heartfelt expressions. These feelings are often compounded by isolation, by feeling that the prospects for the future, such as employment, are minimal, or that problems in relationship are strained or heightened by the intensity of lockdown. Such feelings cut across all ages, from the older population possibly on their own and feeling estranged from friends and loved ones, to younger people unable to find work, attend College or University; remaining in parental homes where they no longer want to be. Alongside the loss and trauma that many people are experiencing, there is very sadly the accelerated increase of suicide.
For the LGBTQ+ population, there are often additional pressures. This can be a sense of estrangement or distance from those with whom we feel we belong; the people who understand us are not there, or not as available. Familiar networks of support may seem remote. We are currently entering the Pride season, where there would normally be a very visible presence of people like us, so we could identify with the celebration of our lives in all their diversity and richness. But, we have to find other ways to express our belonging this year. We can turn to LGBTQ+ organisations, such as OneBodyOneFaith, which provide resources, specifically to express our identities and the reality of our lives.
So, can we find hope in this period of loss and uncertainty? I believe we can find it when we recognise and express the profound interconnection of us all. Simply put, we are not isolated individuals, battling on our own for survival, but we genuinely all belong to each other. As Christians we say, ‘Though we are many, we are one Body.’ This is not a poetic platitude, but a fundamental human reality. We see this ‘belonging’ in everyone who reaches out to others in a time of need; in the NHS care workers, doctors and nurses, who work tirelessly for their patients, or the neighbour or good friend who is willing to really notice how others are feeling and to listen to them. We see it in the young footballer who is willing to tell his own story in order to put pressure on the Government to provide necessary food for children and families in need during the school holidays. We see it in many examples around us.
One of my favourite Resurrection appearances is the account on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24:13-35) While they are full of confusion, fear and loss, Jesus comes alongside them. He’s not way ahead saying ‘Why aren’t you up here, where I am?’ He helps them begin to understand what has happened to them, through interpreting the Scriptures. When they arrive at a place to stay, he continues to walk on, as if not just presuming his welcome with them. Although they still don’t know who he is, they invite him to stay, as it is almost evening. He then gives thanks and breaks bread, and they recognise him in this sign of unconditional selfgiving love.
We can have hope, now and in the future, in this ‘belonging’, which is shown in the breaking and sharing of bread, and in the self-giving this portrays.