Comment by the Harborough churches: How a TV programme opened my eyes to the strength and determination of people

Every week the Harborough churches write a column for the Harborough Mail. THis week, it is the turn of Fr Owen O’Neill, parish priest of Our Lady of Victories Church, Market Harborough

Monday, 18th May 2020, 9:58 am
Updated Monday, 18th May 2020, 10:00 am
Fr Owen ONeill

Viewpoint by Fr Owen O’Neill, parish priest of Our Lady of Victories Church, Market Harborough

Like so many during the period of lockdown, I had to find some other interests to help make days and weeks more meaningful and fulfilling, almost a new kind of “managing” each day. I confess that I watched more television than I normally would. Flicking through the channels I came upon a programme called ALASKA – the Last Frontier.

I was drawn into it for a number of reasons. The sheer wilderness of the area, the harsh weather conditions with freezing snow and howling winds for many months of the year. But what impressed me most was the enterprise, the initiatives, the invention of the families, the self sufficiency to provide for themselves, the sometimes superhuman efforts to overcome life threatening situations, from mother nature or wild life.

They made “impossible land” into growing land, they produced their own crops, household necessities, and everything that a family needs. Families were always there to help each other. Strong family values were very evident. Also, if the invocation of God’s name was anything to go by, they obviously had a faith, and a trust in a God who was always with them, and would protect and provide for them.

I couldn’t help drawing parallels with our current situation, the sacrifices that we have made for the wellbeing of all, the care, concern and love that communities displayed to, and for each other, the adjustments to “abnormal” restrictions and guidelines, the willingness of so many to reach out to others. How wonderful that the nation acclaimed our frontline workers, showing their appreciation and gratitude on Thursday evenings, with loud clapping and pan bashing. Also we became aware of the endless list of unsung heroes who work under difficult circumstances to keep the wheels of society rolling.

That ALASKA programme opened my eyes to the strength, the resolve, the determination of people to meet challenges and to survive. It is in times of hardship that we see real initiative, imagination, real resolve. UK citizens from every walk of life are continuing to do this, knowing that together, there is, and always will be, a solution, a healing, an overcoming of the most difficult challenges we can encounter in life.

For those of us with faith, we believe and profess the wonder of a God who loves us, watches over us, inspires us. A little pause, a little reflection, a little analysis of that belief, can benefit all of us. In Scripture we read that “God is love. The one who lives in love, lives in God, and God lives in them”. May the God who loves each and everyone of us, truly live in you at this time, and you live in Him. We all need Him. We all need that love.

Even if we abandon Him, He never abandons us. We like to think that we are in charge, that we have the final say in all things and in all ways. We are not really. Our God is a great big God as the song says, and is the One, the Mighty One, the great big Architect, who holds heaven and earth together, who loves us, cares for us, and will never abandon us. In God’s love we trust.

Fr Owen O’Neill is the parish priest of Our Lady of Victories Church, Market Harborough