Here in Ireland, the start of the month of May is usually the time when tourism really picks up. This is a country of welcome; it’s usually one of the first things that people comment on when you speak of Ireland: the country is so green and beautiful, and the people are so welcoming. And in my five years living here, I have found that to be completely true.
During these very different days as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic stretch on with additional days of “lockdown” here and abroad, the idea of welcoming can seem a strange one, or at least not so applicable right now. We are trying not to welcome this virus into our homes and into our bodies. We are keeping our mouths masked and hands gloved, and we are keeping our social distance. However, there is also a lot for us to welcome. The Lord is still giving us Himself in many forms, desiring to be welcomed.
Last week the doorbell rang before 9 am here at St. Anthony Convent; generally that means it’s the postman with a package – our mail gets delivered early! With mask and gloves on I went to the front door where a package was waiting on our step. The postman was sitting in his postal delivery truck at a safe distance away. I waved and gave a “thumbs up” through the glassed-in porch, but he wanted to speak to me. He wanted to know how we were doing, and a simple “good” would not suffice. He asked about the other sisters and about how we are finding it during these very unusual times and if we had everything that we needed – this is the postman! I was deeply touched by his warmth and concern: the conversation was not limited to just being functional- it was familial. It is Jesus Christ who makes the postman part of my family and inspires him to reach out to me like a brother.
During these strange days, I welcome the way that this pandemic is making us more human in our interactions with one another. And while the streets where are not filled with tourists at the moment, I have experienced, yet again, that Ireland truly is the land of a thousand welcomes. May we all learn anew this gift of welcoming the Lord in the ways that He comes to us and speaks to us, during these unusual days and always!
Sr. Kelly Francis, CFR