Let's not let this opportunity for insight and growth pass by without taking advantage of it.
“What have we been through? What changes do we want to keep? What unsuspected talents or resources have we discovered?” Fr. Pierre-André Chevaux, a parish priest in Lyon, France, came up with a questionnaire to help us see how the Holy Spirit has acted in our lives during shelter-in-place orders. He urges us not to treat the months we’ve spent confined in our homes as a “parenthesis” in our lives, after which we return to the way things were before.
In order for this experience to help us to grow, Fr. Chevaux challenges us to reflect on our personal experiences over recent months, especially focusing on what decisions and resolutions we could make for the future.
Comparing the period of confinement to a kind of exile, he invites each of us to examine our relationship with God, and to recognize the presence of the Lord in our life. “God is with us during all the events of our life, and He gives them meaning,” the priest says, but we have to take the time and the distance necessary to reflect on these events.
He proposes three levels of reflection: in relation to ourselves, to others and to God. These 10 questions can help with the process.
Our relationship with ourselves
1. During this time of being confined at home, what did I learn/discover about myself? This might include my relationship to time, property, my body, my health, my activities, loneliness, etc.
2. What were my joys? Perhaps make a special note of one or more moments worth remembering.
3. What were my difficulties/sorrows? Name my emotions, my thoughts, and perhaps my regrets.
Our relationships with others
4. What person comes to mind spontaneously when I think back on the past two months? Why?
5. What new type or level of relationship have I discovered or developed? Have my relationships been enriched or deepened? Did I suffer because I missed someone in particular?
6. Have I (re)discovered limitations in the way I live my relationships (family, friends, co-workers)?
7. What decision(s) does this time of confinement invite me to make in the way I live my relationships with others from now on?
Our relationship with God
8. How did I perceive the presence of God during this time of confinement? What place have I given to the Word of God? What words of Scripture particularly affected me during this time of confinement?
9. How did I experience this time of forced abstinence from sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation)? What desire or awareness did it foster in me?
10. To what does this time of confinement invite me to pay attention, in terms of renewing personal and community prayer (listening to the Word of God, adoration, praise, commitment to parish life linked to the Eucharist)?
We can take some time to answer these questions, and either keep them to ourselves or share them with others. We might receive interesting inspiration or ideas if we discuss these questions with someone close to us, or with a spiritual director.
Let’s not let this opportunity for insight and growth pass by without taking advantage of it. God speaks to us through the events and people in our lives, even (or perhaps especially) through difficult situations that challenge us.