By Lena Bergcoutts, Knivsta, Sweden

Tuesday morning I was waiting to hear from my supervisor the first day of my practicum at the Church of Västermalm in Stockholm. Almost two hours of anxiety went by without a word, and when I got the call she told me she just woke up after a crazy night with flu symptoms. I had already been informed that my three-week Deacon practicum is transformed from experiencing all the support services of the church to a Skype-call and reading project. This is a very critical year of my life. After three years of prep I am supposed to graduate in early June with an ordination service led by the Bishop, formal liturgical clothes, banquet dinner and a reception lunch for my 60 closest friends and extended family. None of this will happen as planned. Fresh news from the head Deacon of the Stockholm unit of the Church of Sweden tells me that I will hopefully get to graduate, probably in an individual fashion. The celebrating will have to wait.

Even though I live in the most central region of Sweden, my home is located along a winding country road with horse pastures and wheat fields. Between some old apple trees and a pine/oak forest with blue anemones you’ll find villa Ekliden. This is our whole world right now. For the last two weeks my Canadian husband, a senior engineer at Spotify, our two children aged six and almost four, and myself, a full-time student of the Deacon program have hardly left home at all. The Spotify office has told all their staff world-wide to work from home for the month. My school has turned into distance education with video calls and long writing tasks. Our kids typically go to daycare four days a week but with Corona half of the staff and two-thirds of the kids are home sick and we haven’t felt comfortable in the last few weeks dropping off our kids when we are both working from home. Especially since our son is waiting for surgery to have his tonsils removed, which means his breathing is already compromised.

Days consist of taking turns entertaining the kids with reading, baking, painting, building and drawing projects. We break it up by going outside to jump on our trampoline together or go for a walk. We have stacked up enough food for 2-3 weeks and are trying to just stay put and ride this out.

In our hometown about 80 per cent of the population commute to Stockholm, Uppsala or the Arlanda airport. There is a high alert about the risk of Corona spreading in the commuting trains. Higher education has closed and sick people are asked to stay home. But most of society is still up and running as usual. This feels really strange and alarming as we are following news from our family and friends in Vancouver, Brussels and Finland where more severe measures are taken every day. We marvel at the fact that daycare centres and schools are not shut down, that people go to church and hang around in large groups while this deadly disease is in our midst. Our country is one of the most self-confident places on Earth.

We realise that we are privileged to stay home and still collect a pay check under these conditions. Many people we know don’t have a job that offers this luxury, and are undergoing more stress because of their circumstances.

In the midst of this time of rapid change, I have come to reflect deeply on my calling to work with the most vulnerable, to give a voice to those who are not heard. I see the need for more clarity of mind in our world. More loving kindness, more grace, and a renewed sense responsibility over our lives, other people, and our planet. This is my hope and my prayer.

 

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