What have you seen?

Reflections

“Might this culture of publicly saying ‘thank you’ be something that remains once COVID-19 passes. What would our world look like if such grateful messages endure beyond this time,” says Bishop John Roundhill on a new culture of gratitude he has seen emerging

Print article

I think it is a fair comment to say that many of us have been spending more time than usual on the Internet in these last few months. I can recall times when I was told “you are spending too much time on the Internet” as an insinuation that I was not doing enough ‘real work’. Much ‘real work’ and an increasing amount of recreation time have been spent online since March, in the wake of COVID-19.

The web has become a place to read about and see the impacts of the virus. Images of PPE-wearing nurses will surely define 2020, yet it is also an image that could be from any part of the globe. The whole world has been affected by this virus – we are all in this.

So, at times what I have read and seen on the Internet has been confronting. Whether it be reports about doctors in the UK being overwhelmed by the numbers of patients, or images of empty cityscapes from almost any city in the world. Or, of course, the ubiquitous coronavirus chart with its difficult-to-tame curve.

Yet in addition to the confronting, we are also witnessing a blossoming of creative talents. This is true in the life of the Church, as anywhere else. I have seen wonderful initiatives that might have even been called ‘stunts’ in the past, including a puppet-wielding priest in Manchester teaching his congregation from his home couch and collaborative services held from rooftops, parks and pulpits that bring people together across continents. Here, too, in our Diocese there are extraordinary things going up online every week, such as well-produced Sunday worship and ministry content that makes use of platforms like Zoom, allowing for congregation input. Many of these services have elements that took all week prior to produce.

We need to care for each other ever more as restrictions ease, but expectations for online worship remain.

There is one image of this time that I hope to treasure. As cities have locked down, many businesses have struggled. One has been billboard advertising, as advertising has rushed online. So, when I drive into the city, I am now seeing new advertisements that say things like ‘Thank you nurses, frontline workers, essential workers, doctors, teachers’, etc.

It turns out these ‘thank you’ billboards are not just found in Australia. Looking online at the news, it appears that other places in the world have been putting up ‘thank you’ billboards.

Might this culture of publicly saying ‘thank you’ be something that remains once COVID-19 passes. What would our world look like if such grateful messages endure beyond this time?

We are a community of gratitude, a Eucharistic community. Might our world emerge from this time more grateful, thankful, Eucharistic.

For live-streamed or recorded Sunday worship services in our Diocese, visit the ACSQ website.

More Reflections stories

Loading next article