A seismic event

Barney Zwartz notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has led many to reconsider their lives, values, and relationships.

One of the unexpected blessings of the COVID-19 pandemic – and there haven’t been many – is the opportunity it has provided so many people to re-evaluate their lives, their priorities, their commitments, and their relationships.

Spending so much time forced to stay at home alone or with a few familiar faces has led thoughts in unusual and sometimes uncomfortable directions as we pondered our lives’ narrative, past and potentially future.

This might not be true for everyone. A single parent stuck with three small children in a little unit on an upper floor, perhaps trying to both work and home school, might not have found time or energy for self-reflection. But even in such a predicament, some seem to have done so.

For some people, the changes are enormous. The Great Resignation, in which large numbers have simply decided not to return to work after lockdown ended, is far more prominent in the US, where the minimum hourly rate is half that of Australia’s. But tree and sea changes have been pretty popular here. We’ve got used to working from home, and a lot of us don’t want to go back to commuting. We recognise that more time, even at the price of less money, is a good deal.

The most important of all these reflections, and the most challenging, is to look at our values, our responsibilities and our relationships. Inside our heads can be a confronting place to live, which is why we so ardently seek distractions. Advent, the lead-up to Christmas, is the perfect time to concentrate on this pilgrimage of heart and mind because it ends with the joyous celebration of God’s intervention in human history in the form of his Incarnate Son. That’s a seismic event and claim. This Christmas would be a good time to see it with fresh eyes.