t’s as though we’ve all been staying awake far, far too long to see the sunrise…
And it’s beginning to feel as though it might never be light again.
Yep, the long wait for the Covid-19 pandemic to pack up and feck off is certainly taking its toll. Not sure we’ve ever seen Greystones so tired, so tense, so disconnected.
Our sense of community seems to be slipping away, as the low-watt fear of our unsettled and unsettling future keeps chipping away at our collective psyche. There are pockets of resistance, of course, eternally happy people coming together to lend a helping hand or simply have a good time, both crucial to keeping that community spirit alive.
For many though, everyday life has become increasingly uncertain – adrift in a rudderless boat, like a motherless child, with little or no real control over where we’re going, and no clear sign of making it home again any time soon.
Is it any wonder that mental health issues are rapidly on the rise?
Tellingly, the wartime spirit that greeted the arrival of the lockdowns a year ago has faded. There are no more claps on the doorstep for those HSE doctors and nurses on the frontline, despite the fact that, 18 months on, they’re still in the trenches.
All things must pass though, and just as the Spanish Flu that brought Wicklow and the rest of the world to a standstill 100 years ago is now a very distant memory, Covid-19’s crippling hold on the planet will one day be history too.
Edgar & his main squeeze, Gladys
In the meantime, we’ve asked various Greystonians to offer up a little perspective, and a little hope, to help bring us all back to the sunny side of life. First up, it’s Archdeacon Edgar Swann…
On Tuesday, March 10th 2020, I conducted a funeral in Kilbride Church, Arklow.
I had been regularly visiting schools and nursing homes in the parish during the local rector’s illness, but the following day, the school in Kilbride was closed, and the nursing homes soon followed.
It was a similar story in the city centre parish I helped in, St Ann’s and St Stephen’s.
The day-to-day city centre ministry of the Eucharist and the day-to-day flow of international visitors ceased as the church closed on weekdays.
As we know now, worse was to come, as churches everywhere shut their doors and we faced into that first lockdown.
It all seemed so awful. As if life as we had known it would never be the same again. So much of what we had taken for granted seemed to have gone overnight.
The world had changed utterly.
For Irish people not to hug and meet and be together, and not to worship together, celebrate and socialise together, to not bury our dead together – this was all alien to us.
Everything seemed so black and negative.
However, gradually, people began to see a more positive side.
For many people working from home turned out to have some good sides. Families began to see the benefits of spending quality time together. Many church services began to appear online and reached a much greater audience than anyone had ever dreamed of.
Adults and children used the internet sites and all this sudden spare time to be creative. In typically Irish fashion, we managed and became more creative.
And now that lockdown is almost over, we have most of the population vaccinated, which in itself is something of a miracle of medical science. Despite the virus being still with us, and probably will be for a very long time, there is a greater sense of hope around.
Our restaurants and theatres, our cinemas and pubs are open again, and I hope there is a greater sense of optimism in the air. It is all up to us now to get out and live life again and help to support our businesses, and to build our society again, as we have always done in the past.
We are a resilient people.
Our nation has lived through wars and rebellions, civil war and financial recessions, and it survived to take its place with pride among the nations of Europe.
Newcastle’s Carolyn Hayes
We have just had great successes at the Olympics and the Paralympics, despite the doubt that anyone could go.
Our women’s football team did us proud recently and perhaps our men’s fortunes are beginning to look up as well.
Greystones Nursing Home
I have been back visiting a couple of nursing homes, and despite the awful suffering, loneliness and death they have endured, I have found them bounced back and grateful for a new lease of life.
I thank God daily that I was born in Ireland and not into Afghanistan or some other place of unrest and starvation, and terrible deprivation of freedom.
We have a moderate climate and are spared the natural disasters that wreck havoc in so many parts of the world.
We are not fleeing across borders through alien countries trying to find a place for our children to have food and shelter. We enjoy a privileged position in the west and we should thank God for it.
So let’s get out and enjoy life again.
Of course we should be sensible and wear our masks and wash our hands and keep our distance, but it does not mean that we hide in our homes in fear and blank out the world.
As that famous poem says, ‘Let’s go out and put our hand into the hand of God in faith and start to live again’.
We can do it, we have to do it for ourselves, our society and above all, our children.
May God bless you all…
We’ll have more Greystonians offering their takes on the long road home next week. In the meantime, keep up the good fight – don’t worry, be scrappy.
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