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Unlocking lockdown in Sri Lanka

Unlocking lockdown in Sri Lanka

Islandwide lockdown extended till Sept. 13

(Daily Mirror Online, September 5, 2021)

Corona & Corruption Virus Wreak Havoc In Sri Lanka

(Colombo Telegraph, September 5, 2021)

Covid: Sri Lanka in economic emergency as food prices soar
(BBC,  September 1 2021)
Sri Lanka extends Covid-19 lockdown till October 1

(Times of India, September 17, 2021)

These are recent headlines about my country and what and where we are at this point in the global pandemic. And It is in this context I offer this reflection about lockdown as my country seems locked in place.

Lockdown is a concept that has recently become familiar for so many in connection with the COVID-19 crisis that the world is experiencing.

So, what exactly is a lockdown? A lockdown is an emergency procedure or situation in which people are temporarily barred from entering or leaving a restricted area or building when there is a possibility of risk. Lockdowns are often associated with phrases like “stay at home” or “shelter in place.”

This word “lockdown” as a result, can automatically convey the feeling of being down and out.

Most people around the world will have had that kind of sentiment by now. Where this lockdown of our life’s routine, the ordinary things we do, and the kinds of places we  will go about and continue our work, and our involvement in life has become very limited. So, the lockdown depicts the situation in which we are confined, locked, and unable to move about and do things as we did.

My thoughts turn to Psalm 42. ” Why my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” asks the Psalmist, expressing a similar feeling to what we can say we are going through. It seems as if  there was the same  kind of uncertainty, question, concern, and confusion we face now.  The kind of struggle seen in the Psalm has a reflection of a similar struggle is true today in our lockdown and restricted life. Like the Psalmist we may feel alone, frustrated, and very down and low emotionally and spiritually as well. Ironically, feeling this way makes it harder to admit we are frustrated, down, disheartened, lonely, or going through a rough patch.

So, one solution that many people could take is to deny what we are facing, deny what we are going through, and then refuse to accept the truth. Making the challenge we face, as people of God, is that we must remember and recognize that it is okay to feel down. It’s not wrong to be depressed or discouraged.

Those are all natural and usual human emotions, feelings, and expressions. As a result, denying one’s emotions and memories of being down is not the right strategy for moving forward. That’s why, in Psalm 42, verse 6, in the first line, we find these words of the psalmist, “”My soul is downcast within me”. Admitting perhaps,  the realization of feeling lonely, and downcast, and even discouraged.

My recommendation is that we all should grab hold  to that statement and idea, acknowledging that “It’s Okay to Be Not Okay”. We many understand that sort of approach is something a lot of people don’t like to come to terms with and face.  In the discouraging and devastating situation that we find ourselves in acutely in Sri Lanka, but around the world, how we approach his may look different. We look for help, we look for support, we look for connection and communication. From my own context, in Sri Lanka,  we look for a solution to pandemic challenges outside and beyond of home. We look for help from the authorities, governments of our own nation.

But we also look beyond to the “superpowers” those who have more, to solve this crisis. And there seems to be a stubborn reality spiking our fear that the entire planet appears powerless with this current situation of the  COVID-19 pandemic. In our time, those who have the power and control the armies, the resources, are battling, struggling, and are being threatened by the spread of this virus. This is a dangerous time.

With all this, I offer a few ideas on what we can do in times of lockdown.

 

 Look BACK during times of lockdown.

First and foremost, my idea is that we should look back during times of lockdown. Looking back should accomplish two goals. One, it should instill in us a sense of gratitude in which we express our gratitude to God for the amazing and wonderful times we have experienced in the past. Secondly, we can be inspired and motivated to look forward to the wonderful times God will continue to bring into our lives.

 Look AROUND during times of lockdown.

It’s human nature to only just seem to think only of ourselves in times of lockdown and difficulties, We are all  worried and concerned for our safety, our provisions, our family, food, and shelter, Our focus falls only on ourselves. We should, however, take a moment take a look around. There are people around us who require financial assistance, who do not have enough food for the next week if the lockdown continues. There is much  loneliness and frustration in being unable to communicate with their loved ones by phone, Facebook, email, or WhatsApp, as many of us are able. 

Look WITHIN during times of lockdown.

In light of the headlines above, this is a time to focus on our lifestyle values. The things that mattered most to us are no longer a privilege. In lockdown we can no longer enjoy the kind of good times we had with our friends and associates, spend time with friends and family or even go out together for a meal. This kind of situation demands us to be self-aware and allow these changing times to refine us, help us mature, and help us improve.

When we examine ourselves from the inside out, we see our weaknesses and strengths. There may have been circumstances and periods in our lives when we were very self-sufficient, and we may have fallen into the habit of thinking that we can handle it on our own and that everything is under our control. And then, all of a sudden, we are confronted with the fact that nothing is going the way we thought it would. And that should prompt us to examine ourselves and consider whether we need to change our ways of thinking. Is it necessary to ask ourselves this question? Have I been guilty of relying on my pride and ego for my self-sufficiency, and do I need to reflect and make some changes?

Look UP during times of lockdown.

The main recommendation is that we must look up in moments like this. Look to where God is present and working. In these times of great distress, confusion, changes, and difficulties, we must turn to the great God, our Creator, and ask for the great mercy and assistance that only comes through divine care.

Psalm 121 reads:

“I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

I ask myself, where do I look? Where can I go? Where can I find my help? And then there is that answer, which comes from the depths of heart, and that soulful conviction that:

“My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

It is vital that in times like these acknowledging, especially in this time of struggle, distress, and doubt, that there is this living God who has power over everything. And we must look to God for health, grace, mercy, and production; the One who watches over you will not sleep or slumber.

The Lord keeps watches us like a close friend at your right side, and will not abandon. The Lord will keep you safe from all harm, and will watch over your life, both now and in the future. So as we look back, as we look around, as we look within and as we look up, beyond ourselves, we also look forward to the new, fresh age, we must look up, to our God, our Creator.

The Psalmist wraps up the beautiful Psalm 42 saying in verse 11:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.”

In this time we can learn to place our trust in God and remember that He is a living God, we will be encouraged, empowered, and able to cling to that hope in our living God.

May God bless us all and keep us safe throughout these trying times.

 

Rev. Fr. N. Earnest, Sri Lanka

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