COVID-19 has changed the way we do many things. No longer can we gather at a friend’s house to share thoughts over a cuppa, no longer are we at our workplaces to share thoughts in the lunch room, no longer do parents catch up on the school run, no longer can we meet a friend for a coffee at the local café…the list of 'no longers' go on forever it seems. At the same time it is heartening to realise that this does not stop us from connecting with each other through one, or all, of the numerous ways that modern technology has given us. Zoom meetings are part of each day, both for work and for communicating with friends and family. We’ve even seen #unitedapart as a trending hashtag as we heed the advice on social distancing and seek new ways to connect.
Following our commitment to provide safe space for sharing, the community in Australia, and beyond, has turned to digital methods of connection and collaboration. IofC International has organised daily quiet time sessions and bi-weekly talks on trustbuilding to support the network of changemakers. There have also been online forums organised in the region by IofC Indonesia where IofCA members have participated. In Australia, with Armagh closed to staff and outsiders, the network was invited to come together to share thoughts and pool ideas. Two online forums were held on Tuesday 7 April and Thursday 9 April, which brought together a diverse group of participants.
The thoughts from these forums range from personal coping mechanisms many have adopted to deeper thoughts on what this time can mean and how we can utilise it to create a better world for the future. We would like to share some of these insights with you in hopes that you will also be inspired to think differently, and deeply, like we have:
‘I am enjoying my time at home, enjoying home cooking, gardening, learning new things.’
‘I used to work in a café but I have now lost my job.’
‘For the first time I felt lonely. Loneliness is not pleasant and there will be many feeling the same way at this time. After several down days, I started to acknowledge how painful loneliness was and that I was trying to bury my feelings. The loneliness needed to be owned. The pain brought tears. Nothing was hidden.'
‘Suddenly we find ourselves alone with a few others and our habits are exposed and it is making us have a good look at ourselves; it is a challenge but it is also a blessing.’
‘Conscious of NOT putting the TV for news all the time. Tapping into the positives this pandemic has brought such as the gift of extra time.’
‘Found the need for inner listening at a deeper level. I have learnt to connect with that inner space where love is the main thing.’
'There is a lot of collective fear. I feel that Australia is a lucky country but also realising just how fragile everything is - our economy, our well-being and that taps into that deep anxiety that is bubbling to the surface.'
‘We’re going to have to change the way we treat the earth, water, air.'
‘Quiet time has made me go to gratitude and opportunities. I realise I have much to be grateful for, within this COVID-19 challenge, which all the world is facing and which for many has brought uncertainty, hardship and sorrow.’
‘It has made me think how this moment in time can bring us all together in a way that our collective hopes and dreams might find some expression, for a better world than this. No leader, no UN agency, could have asked the world to ‘take a break, and think about the future.'
‘I am reminded that I don’t want to rush life and as a practice, to Stop. I am seeing this as a time to sow seeds and develop roots for others and get back to the experiential, the earth, life.’
‘If you can’t go outside, go inside. We are now all having to embrace faith, or some other dimension, to make sense of what we are going through. The Universe is conspiring to wake up humanity.’
‘I have been obsessively thinking about the virus and it is teaching me to learn emotional management; to reflect on the things that I can change and to let go of the things that I cannot.’
'Apart from all the negative stuff being written about it, I have been touched by people just asking "how’s it been for you?" '
'A lot can happen in and through me in times like this, and makes you see that there‘s also a "pandemic of kindness". More time and technology are assets in this situation and I truly believe that each individual has something to offer and a role to play.'
‘I have seen people collecting things needed by others, especially for those who are at risk. These are small actions, but we need something that unites us and that I believe will help give us solidarity to find answers.'
‘I see social issues escalating with unemployment and not enough medical equipment. Despite this I am taking the time to deeply observe myself and my surroundings, this is a unique historical moment we are all passing through and we can keep trying to do one practical thing each day.’
‘Amongst this turmoil there are stories of great compassion – we can make these acts of kindness normal in the new world.’
‘I find myself needing more time in quiet reflection and silence, to be part of a bigger movement in finding the next step, and the next step, until we find something new emerging.’