A very challenging pastoral year 2020-2021 comes to an end. Many of our parishioners are tired and long for summer with renewed family contacts, travel options, and less restricted life. We have all spent lots of energy trying to survive and getting through the Corona crisis as safe and sound as possible. Every day that we ended singing, “I am still standing” was a blessing and a bonus! 

On my desk lies a magazine with articles about 900 years of monastic life in The Netherlands. The province of Brabant declared 2021 as the Year of Monastic Life. A total of 330 km. of new walking tours take travelers past more than 50 active and former abbeys and monasteries. Religious communities survived famines, wars, plagues, scandals, and crises of faith by constantly re-inventing themselves and trusting that, somehow, the Lord always provides. 

It gives me hope for the new pastoral year. We do not yet know what we can plan and how things will be, but we see that a more normal life is slowly coming back. The last pastoral year taught us to be grateful for small things like surviving with small numbers. In the silence of an empty church and the social distance among members of the community, we still experienced God’s presence as a source of comfort and hope. The connection between us was not lost. 

We need this summer to rest, to re-discover and re-connect, to celebrate and to be free, to mourn and to dance. As the Book of Wisdom says, “There is a time for everything!”. I wish you all a time with quality of life. May this summer help us all to find new energy and joy. 

I am deeply grateful to all the helpers, donors, comforters and volunteers who helped us to remain standing during this unforgettable year. We will have lots of stories to tell when we start our new pastoral year on 05 September 2021. 

Only God knows what that new year will bring, but my prayer is that we bring ourselves to it after a good rest and a wonderful summer. I hope that we find the time and opportunity to visit a sacred space – either in a beautiful place of worship or within ourselves. 

(The next Threshold message follows in September)