I was born in 1945. It probably seems like a long time ago to many of you, but the time speeds by. So do the stages of life, as you probably know. Childhood, the teen years, exploring your options as a young adult, early marriage, raising children, saying goodbye to them, to our parents, perhaps even to our spouse.
Those years are meant to be years of learning, years of exploration and adventure, years of re-thinking the things we took for granted earlier.
As a child I lived on the same street and played outdoor games with the same neighbourhood children from an early age until we were almost adults together. Time was not regimented: we did not have to go a different afterschool sport or class every day of the week. Instead we played together, had wide games, treasure hunts, make-believe enactments of Cops and Robbers. We came in for dinner as a family when Dad arrived home. Sundays were not for sports—they were for the family, for rest, for time with God to reconsider our lives and the things we were doing with them.
I did not realize how good I had it at the time.
Over my lifetime, things got busier and busier. We changed workplaces more often, we changed towns more often, we had to keep learning to hang on to the better jobs. Whereas my Dad went to work and my Mom stayed home to raise us and be the anchor for our daily lives and wash over our characters and friendships, inflation and divorce meant that more and more women had to go to work to help support the family. One car per family was a luxury when I was a child: two cars was almost a scandal. Then two cars became a necessity. Opportunities increased for learning, for increased proficiency in a sport, an art, a skill. We were promised more leisure time, and we grabbed it, but that leisure time became yet another pressure, because increasingly it was not shared with your family. Loneliness accompanied busyness like its shadow.
I do not need to go any further. You all know how much our society has changed and how this has affected our marriages, our children, our sense of self, our school systems, our senior citizens, our social clubs and churches, and our own sense of belonging. The computer age has made it possible for a lot of the loneliness to be hidden behind cell phones and computer screens. Anomy is a word I picked up years ago studying Sociology at McGill. It is a societal condition defined by an uprooting or breakdown of any moral values, standards, or guidance for individuals to follow. Anomie may evolve from conflict of belief systems and causes breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community (both economic and primary socialization).
Covid-19 is the worst transnational crisis Canada has experienced in my lifetime and, like wartime, it is causing a lot of fear of the future, sickness, death, destruction of livelihoods and long-term separations. I do not want to play any of this down, but, like war, it can bring people together into a harmony and unity of purpose that most of us, as humans, need at a very deep level. Families have had to change course. Once again the family unit and individual households are learning to spend time together and care of one another and not just physically. Our children and grandchildren are getting a taste of what life was like sixty years ago. For the majority of families and marriages, this is a good thing. We want covid-19 gone, and some day it will go, but our prayer is that we retain and sustain the good things that our very soul needs to thrive and mature.