At this point in the pandemic many of us are feeling fatigue. The days begin to look the same and we’re yearning to just go to a restaurant, head to the beach, or take our kids to the playground – even to just go back to normal work and school days. I’m definitely noticing my parenting fatigue, having to be “on” for my kids and expected to match their energy level. “Can’t we just have a dance party while I sit in this comfy sofa?” I think the fatigue comes from the near constant energy focused in just one or two places for nearly the whole day. During pre-pandemic times my stream of energy was broken up throughout the day and diversified. I could focus on my kids in the morning, then shift my energy to work, then focus back on my children in the evening, giving them my full attention. And I’d be fine with weekends which were all family all the time, because it was just twice a week. Now it seems to be Saturday every day.
I also have Zoom fatigue. Too many meetings, staring at a screen, focused on the thumbnail of my camera, worried more about how I appear and what’s in the background than on the people I’m speaking with. After a flood of virtual offerings to keep us occupied, it’s wearing many of us down. And then there’s grocery store fatigue. Getting in the car to spend an hour at the grocery store in a hot mask trying to keep distant from other customers is not fun. Then washing my hands, unloading the groceries, washing my hands again, and then returning to my parenting. I’m even getting tired of my daily walks! I miss my commute by car.
It’s no wonder my wife asked to be child-free most of Mother’s Day. She’s in the same boat as me. We recognise a need for a break, to diversify our energy flow. Can you guess what I’ll ask for, for Father’s Day?
I feel invited though to put things in perspective. No one in our family is ill. There are so many who may be experiencing the kind of fatigue one experiences as they accompany someone who is sick or dying. Day in and day out one’s energy is focused on the ill loved one. There is little diversity to your day and it’s the gift of presence you’re asked to give. I’m grateful the fatigue I’m experiencing is not that kind of fatigue. But I’m consoled by Jesus’ call to both carry our cross and to lay our burden down on him. Right now our commitments are very focused and it indeed can feel like a burden.
When all our energies are focused in the same place for so long it’s as if our bodies sense there’s something wrong. We find another burden on us. During this time of pandemic, fear can set in. My efforts to diversify my day have me reading the news, which only adds to the fear. Are we approaching a possible depression as unemployment rises and businesses large and small begin to fail? Could I or my loved one get sick? I’m reminded of the Gospel passage about the birds of the air. Jesus says, “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” Perhaps easier said than done. Even St Ignatius’ invitation to indifference of not clinging to health over sickness or riches over poverty seems more challenging to accept these days.
As I said in my last post, I don’t believe God has caused this pandemic, but it certainly has revealed our need to rely on God, to lay our burdens down and to trust, to trust that somehow all will be well. Can we find courage amidst the fatigue and fear? Can we respond to God’s invitation to trust rather than cling to false securities? The only true security comes from God, and our sense of that security is strengthened in prayer as we deepen our relationship with the one who created us and sustains us out of love.
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