For many this past year has proved incredibly challenging and no-one can say with any integrity that they are unchanged or unaffected by events in the world during this time. I would like to remind everyone, cadets and CFAV alike, that you are not alone and that we have a duty to look out for each other during these challenging times.
We are just beginning the season of Lent, and this helps to remind us of the importance of taking time to step back from the routines which govern our life and to find time to examine what we do, why we do it and to ask ourselves if we are using our time and resources in the best way possible.
I often hear people say ‘when we return to normal’ or suggest there is a ‘new normal’ but is there really any such thing as normal? After all, the only constant in life other than the love of God, is change. Day by day, year by year things change and we react and adapt as we make our way through this amazing journey called life.
I would like to suggest some questions which you might like to consider, in the hope they will help your wellbeing.
· Contact: Does anyone know the real you?
· Give: Is it better to ‘Give a gift or get a gift?’
· Take Notice: Are you more likely to be aware of a flower or a piece of your favourite chocolate?
· Keep Learning: Name one thing you have learnt in lockdown that you did not know before.
· Be Active: What excuses do people make for not being active?
· Emotions: What Emoji would you create for yourself? What Emoji would others associate with you?
All of these are important areas to explore in the company of others and we hope to be able to discuss some of these things at detachments in the future. We also need to be aware than when we do return to face-to-face training, it will be a gradual process that will be phased, so as to ensure everyone has a safe environment to meet in.
In the meantime, we may not always feel like being sociable but paradoxically these are the very times we most need to reach out to others who equally may feel unsociable themselves, so please consider contacting your fellow cadets or CFAVs who may have ‘dropped off the cadet radar’. Even if this is someone you don’t get along with, you should still consider that a message or call from you might have an even greater impact than that from a close friend. If you know the person’s name but have no contact details, please talk to your DC or another cadet who does know. And ask them to follow up or detail someone to do this, it could make a big difference in someone’s life especially if they have withdrawn from cadets and other things because of a wellbeing issue. Remind yourself of the ACF Values on a daily basis, and ask yourself ‘have I applied these to everything I have done today?’. Sometimes the answer will be yes, sometimes no, and often it will be in the middle, but do not worry; tomorrow is another day and you have the opportunity to improve and make a fresh start.
Above all please do not think you are ever on your own. You are part of the ACF family, and the Padres are here for you. If anyone feels the need for a confidential or even a social chat, please do get in touch. This can be arranged through your Detachment Commanders or Company Officers, or you can contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you prefer to speak to my colleague Padre Paula Spalding, I will be very happy to ask her to contact you.
This can be completely confidential, nothing need be shared with anyone else unless it concerns safeguarding in which case you will be informed of that fact.
Keep safe and may your God bless you and go with you.