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Lock down’s dawning Thursday reflections

Dunno about you, but this whole lockdown thing is starting to get very real in our home. When our youngest squealed for the umpteenth time yesterday before lunch, interrupting yet another train of thought and conversation that was actually getting somewhere, I said to my wife: “Flip me, this #stayathome mandate is very much a process with kids.” She let out an expended, knowing chuckle.

Earlier this week I messaged my mate to see how it was all going on his side. His text read: “It’s hectic hey… I’m completely losing it! Whenever some essentials are needed I’m the first to leave the house. It’s not fun anymore.”

He’s not alone. The memes online are getting ridiculous. It’s as though people’s desperation to get reactions online – just to feel connected – are escalating at the same rate as their insanity levels. (Post me some, if you get a chance, please?)

I may sound like a tired, scratched record, but the essence of The Great Deep project has been, for a long time, that the world today is just too frantic. Or should I say, was too frantic… for things have changed.

This morning I read a blog post saying that “Parents are not okay”, where one dad laments about trying to balance work and family from home, while his son continually plays up more and more and ends up staring at a screen all day because both parents are just too exhausted to deal with the demands. The article, at its crux, says:

“This current situation is almost prophetically designed to showcase the farce of our societal approach to separating work and family lives.”

All the teachers reading this smile wryly, for they ordinarily have to deal with not only this kid, but another 20 or more just like him. In a small room. All year. (Just by the way, teachers had insights into this pandemic that few others did before we were all locked down. No doubt, they’ll come out the other side of this whole thing a lot more appreciated.)

But what I really want to know, is how did we – as a society – get to this point? Surely, a parent who loves their child has the capacity to see beyond the tantrums, the willfulness and the protest, and can find ways of making this whole #stayathome thing work? I mean, isn’t that a parental mandate? Isn’t that adulting?

Everyone was talking about what a heavenly gift this lock down was going to be prior to us retreating to our homes. We were excited. Single people, married couples, families… they were all amped! It was going to afford us time to do things we never did before, like DIY and cleanup projects. We were going to reconnect properly as families: life as it was designed to be lived, the bare essentials, simple living, work from home and have your family en tow.

Now, most parents who have the reserves to mumble will say they are beyond weathered. Kids are demanding, working from home is hectic, spouses are getting ratty with each other, single people are lonely, teenagers don’t know themselves from their online surrogates… and actually, the whole lock down adjustment we looked forward to is not quite as seamless as we thought it would be.

For my part, lock down hasn’t actually been that bad. Primarily because my wife and I are essentially really good friends. And we understand that our kids feed off our vibe, and that they’re a lot more robust than we give them credit for.

As I reflect on where society is at and the deluge of woeful status updates being posted online, it strikes me that today is Maundy Thursday – the Thursday before Easter, mainly known as the Last Supper. “Maundy” is a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means “command”, and it was on this Thursday that Christ gave this instruction to His disciples:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”

John 13:34

Some of you might be laughing right now. Others not. Whether your mandate is taken from Christ or not, we’re supposed to love each other. Yes, especially at our lowest points.

If you listen to the groaning taking place, it’s like the stripping of our independence and freedom is akin to the sound of skinning several cats simultaneously. Plus, this virus that has upended the whole world hasn’t gone away as yet. I don’t think there are many who are not anxious about the future, worried about the outcomes, or experiencing mild panic attacks.

We’re grieving a life we once had and won’t have back.

Again, I come back to the fact that today is Thursday, and I find myself reflecting on the garden of Gethsemane. The word means oil press, and it was the place where Jesus cried out, sweated blood, and grieved… way more than society is grieving right now.

Perhaps you feel like you’re in an oil press. Perhaps it feels like your Gethsemane right now. May I say to all of us: it’s okay. It’s called grieving.

The more I contemplate these things, the more grateful I find myself in this present moment of the world today. For the Son of Man has been this road before. All we need do is talk to Him along the way, for not only is it not new territory for Him, but He’s conquered it too.

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