That the pandemic changed the way in which we relate to each other is not news to anybody. Families with children, in particular, are facing challenges that were unknown to previous generations.
The need for social distancing and the suspension of onsite classes is causing parents to reinvent the daily routine and take on new tasks, while they struggle to balance their domestic and family life, their work, and all other activities.
On the other hand, the quarantine is providing new opportunities for co-living among families and is restoring ties that, in many homes, had been weakened due to the post-modern daily hectic life and technology. In this context, parents and children can come together again and discover each other, teach and learn, practice loving, patience and forgiveness.
Of course, the confinement makes everything more intense. Adults need to deal with the fear and tension arising from coronavirus and an uncertain future, resolve the problems emerging from a multi-sector crisis, assist with school education of their children, and entertain them in their free time, take care of the family health, keep on top of the housework, find new forms of leisure, and trim the rough edges coming about through prolonged co-existence.
In this process, it is fundamental to keep up the faith and the hope that better days will come, for this will bring us the necessary peace to act more wisely and with discernment. We also know that at this planetary moment, all the events must be faced as a means for growing in unconditional love, transcendence, and solidarity.
To find out how the families are going through the quarantine, the Light-Community Figueira, affiliated with Fraternity – International Humanitarian Federation (FIHF), spoke with four mothers, who described what the adjustments were in their routines, as well as the challenges and the learning experiences brought about by the social distancing. It is important to highlight that one of the points in common among these families is the practice of prayer as a daily exercise.
- Aline & Kevison, parents of Mariah, 7, and of Noah, 10.
- Marcela, mother of Abril, 5, and of Federico, 6.
- Joana & Eric, parents of Isabela, 9, and of Gabriel, 7.
- Talita & Rodrigo, parents of Mahara, 2, and of Noah 4.
- Where does your family live?
Aline: My family and I have lived for almost ten years in the city of Carmo da Cachoeira, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Marcela: We live in the Light-Community Figueira, in the Terras da Irmandade area.
Joana: My husband,my children and I live in Carmo da Cachoeira. The current context caused us to look for changes in our life. We decided to live in the country to give ourselves more space for the children and have more experiences in the midst of nature. We feel that to be closer to nature became essential.
Talita: We live in the rural area of Carmo da Cachoeira.
- How is your family living during the quarantine?
Aline: The quarantine has become a time for us to reinvent ourselves every day. We are always learning the best way to co-exist, in spite of the various challenges that appear.
Marcela: Well, we are going through this period with a lot of challenges overcome, and others still to be defeated, with joy and willpower.
Joana: The quarantine came in an unusual way, and what was most difficult was to deal with the restrictions imposed by the new context. The quarantine certainly brought many challenges, and together with those, many lessons learned. As a family, together we are learning to deal with the emotions, gaining new resources and being aware of inner processes. I always look to see the good and beautiful side of situations and pass that vision on to the children. We are more united and continuing in faith and in hope for better times. Together and daily, we emanate light to the whole planet, all beings and all kingdoms.
Talita: In what is possible, we are in harmony with the children and with nature, because we are far away from the city.
- What is the routine of your family during the quarantine? What activities do you have?
Aline: The rhythm has to be continuously modified, looking at what each one can offer. Tasks include taking care of the dogs, the chicken and the plants, cultivating the vegetable garden, assisting with the schooling, the attunements and the prayers, besides the activities carried out only by the adults.
Marcela: In the morning, when waking up, we do a prayer to consecrate our day to Jesus, to the Virgin Mary, and to Saint Joseph. We eat breakfast together and afterwards we clean and tidy the rooms, before we begin the study routine. Then I focus on the tasks aruond the area. My children sometimes accompany me, sometimes they just play and interact with nature.
At midday, we do a group prayer and afterwards, we have lunch with everybody in the area. We participate in the cleaning and tidying of the kitchen, which is done by all of us, then we go to our room, where the children have their quieter activities. At 2:30 pm, I begin my task in organizing the ritual for the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer and Communion, in which everybody in the area participates, at 3 pm. Afterwards, we again do our tasks on the farm, which include taking care of the garden, preparing some food, cleaning the spaces, gathering fruit, sewing and weaving, studies, music. At 6 pm, we eat and right after, we always have some instructionional activity, such as the sharings or the teachings of the Divine Messengers. To close the day, we do a group prayer.
Joana: Considering that the school was an important space for interactions, experiences and lessons gone through daily by the children, the cancellation of the classes produced a void in the daily family activity. It was necessary to reinvent the routine and open up a space with a fixed schedule for the children’s school activities, setting up the schooling space in the house. The rhythm of the time to wake up, tidying the spaces of the house, taking care of the animals, morning coffee and preparation with everyone all together. To begin the morning activities with the children, we do an attunement: songs, verses and prayers at the altar. After that, either I or the father when available, guided by the script sent by each teacher, who develops the learning path to be followed by the child, we are access bridges that accompany, support and outline with references that indicate the way. When the morning ends, there is a free time for the children, and the mother goes to prepare lunch. Meals are taken together and we always have a moment of prayer. In the afternoon period, while the mother focusses on the tasks of managing the school and the home, the children have playtime, reading, cooking, manual arts. Isabela, the eldest child, found inspiration for her expression in art, and dedicates a lot of her time to painting, design, felting and other things. Gabriela is dedicated to playing, board games, riding games, ball games, she also likes cooking and manual arts. At the end of the day, bath, meal, storytelling, prayer and bedtime around 8 pm.
Talita: Because we have little children, our routine is simple. Since the quarantine began, the children have never been to the city or been in places with a lot of people. I am always with them; my companion does the necessary trips. When he returns, he obeys all the hygiene protocols before entering the house and having contact with the children.
Our routine flows according to the day. At dawn, the children ask what they are going to eat and then begin to suggest dishes. Everything gets mixed in with the games and their world. At some point, I am asked to play together.
One day, we didn’t have any electricity. In the evening, we began to pretend, sitting on the sofa, that we were in a spaceship, travelling through space. At a certain moment, we landed on a planet and went looking for a cave: it was the bedroom. Then we snuggled up and went to sleep very early.
I have noticed, more than ever, how at their age they imitate us. And so, our attitudes are very important. In the beginning, when my husband came back from the city, he always had to warn the children not to come close before he washed, because they would see him and run to greet him and hug him, missing him. So, one day, I heard my child saying: “don’t come close, sis.” I went to see what was going on and he says, sitting on his tricycle: “I have come from the city and sis can’t come close to me.”
Sometimes, we get organized to do something special for the whole day. On those days when we light a fire, we go out to gather wood and twigs and prepare something to do around the fire. They like to admire the work in which they participate and fille their day.
At some time during the day, we also pray and sing. Each one takes up an instrument and we have a party! They are small moment with which we try to make the day unique and special. In the middle of routine activities, I feel that those moments make all the difference for them and for me.
Within the planetary context, the children are constantly bringing us into the present moment. It is important for us to seek balance of body, soul, and spirit, and to be connected to nature, so that us and our children can learn to live in a more simple and real way.
Family Joana and Eric Light-Community Figueira
- Because of the quarantine, what challenges are your family facing?
Aline: For the children, it has been a challenge to not have so much contact with the rest of the family and friends. So that everything may be managed in the best way, the adults have to take on a lot of additional tasks. We are all going through purification, and as a family, we have mutually helped each other, with patience and empathy, to move beyond that process.
Marcela: I came to the Light-Community Figueira shortly before the pandemic began. Before, we used to live in our home in Argentina. Besides the pandemic, the biggest challenge was adapting to a new way of life, which set us in a different rhythm and made us co-exist with new people, who are now our family. After that, more everyday challenges emerged, relateing to the carrying out of our tasks.
Joana: The quarantine brought many challenges. For the children, I consider that the greatest for them is the social isolation and lack of schooling, which provided socialization and rich learning experiences.
For my husband and I, what was most difficult was the isolation of the Light-Community Figueira, which offered important impulses of connection through the liturgies, and opportunities for group experiences, reasons for which we moved close by.
In the face of so many challenges, to pay attention to the needs of each one was important in our trying to find ways and solutions. In the beginning, it seemed temporary, but little by little, it became the new reality, which was when a feeling of loneliness came over me. The lack of group work, of the liturgies that gave meaning to the purpose were a test of faith, and the understanding that the work continued in the invisible and that the building of access to the spiritual world had to be built within me was an important step. It was necessary to gather strength to be the support of the family and in the school task. The children also felt an immense lack of interaction with their friends. To take care of this demand, which saddened the hearts of the little ones, we opened up to meet with a few friends who are careful with the protocols. With some frequency, they met with their cousins and with their grandfather.
The yard became small for the children’s need for movement. So, we began a rhythm with the children in the countryside, planting, walking, visiting the stream, playing outside, etc. The contact with nature and its elements became essential for restoration, connecting with life and with God!
Talita: Our greatest challenges are to keep a balance and look for creativity to fill the day of the children, so that they can keep emotionally and mentally healthy. Besides that, we are learning to accept solitude and discover its benefits.
- As a family, what was the greatest lesson learned during the quarantine?
Aline: There is a passage in Ecclesiastes 4:12 that well expresses what we are learning.
“a man alone can be defeated,
but two manage to defend themselves.
A three-ply cord
does not easily break.”
The book “The strength of Union”, by Bráulio Bessa, also transmits that lesson:
A wise man, already old
with a vague and distant look
assembled his four children
and spoke for a minute:
at the bottom of the yard there are four sticks
please go and fetch them
and even without understanding
what the father asked them to do
they answered: for now
four adults to the world
for the father, four children
receiving a lesson
from that weak and meek voice
four children, four sticks
front to front, face to face
and the old father ordered:
hat each one break theirs
then they threw pieces of what was left on the street
go and fetch four more sticks
says the patient old man
and he said: however, now we are going to do it differently
he gathered the sticks in his hand, tied them with twine
and says: break them
they applied their strength, they groaned, but quickly understood
that it was not going to work
and the old man says: my children
that is my legacy
it is not imported cars
nor money in the savings account
I leave you this lesson
is our best transportation
continue with your life united
for you will never be defeated
for together you are stronger.
Marcela: The biggest lesson was and continues to be that beyond any situation, what really brings strength and the will to overcome all challenges is unity and love. The quarantine makes us face unavoidable situations, which can only be resolved with tolerance and patience.
Joana: My husband and I feel that facing the challenges as opportunities for learning and keeping faith has been very important practices, which also serves as an example for the children. In the end, they look at the world as we present it. Faith, union and hope have been essential ingredients within the present context, besides the resolve to keep our feet firmly within the greater purpose.
Talita: The greatest lesson, which we could establish in this period, is that what we want and look for is not outside, but rather within us.