By Sandra Thomson
I am an introvert. Once you get to know me, you would think otherwise but honest, I have been tested. I too struggled to see that side of me, however, COVID-19 gave me a true insight into who Sandra Thomson really is.
I am usually (when not in lockdown), a very busy person with rarely an evening free, and with working, I am pretty much always with people. Covid-freed my nights and gave me the opportunity to work in my home office, but I was a bit nervous … what would I do with my free time?
I started out doing a bit of organizing my house, a bit of reading and quite a bit of nothing. In the recent past I started a new hobby, wood carving. I had really not gotten the hang of it all very well, but now I had the time to really figure out the craft. I think the reason I struggled was that my mind was always somewhere else, thinking about what I had to do next or where I needed to be later. Now, my mind was focused on my hand, the knife and the wood, and I powered out 17 chip carved crosses, good enough to give away.
In other ways also, I became more focused, refreshed and maybe even more alive. That is when I truly believed that the tests were right and I am an introvert, needing alone time to refresh.
Prior to the summer, I thought I knew what God wanted from me and what I was really put on this earth to do. In the past year or so, I spent a lot of time and effort looking into a volunteer placement with a facility dealing with mental health, but every door I tried to open seemed to be locked. I was not qualified; I was not needed at the time or some did not even answer. I felt like I was hitting walls every time but I came to realize that it was not a wall so much as God sending me back into the wilderness to find my way again. I had many people trying to help who kept telling me that I should look into a ministry with those who are homeless, however, I was sure that was not where I should be. But God had other thoughts.
My parish priest called sometime in April to ask if I would help at a breakfast program feeding people who are homeless or those just finding it hard to make ends meet. A few of the people who normally did this had to back out to keep themselves safe from this new virus. I said yes, I could help out for this, since it was before work. I ended up doing two shifts per month, making sandwiches, confined to the kitchen with a couple of others. It wasn’t long before I received another call looking for mentors to stand in the gym when the people arrived, to welcome them, have them sanitize their hands and just be a person who focused on them unlike the ones who were filling their take out cereal bowls and giving them coffees to go (social distancing a must). It was an eye opener. It felt right; not awkward; it came naturally.
I am now a mentor twice a week and look forward to my next shift each time I walk out to my car to go back home to start work. I am looking forward to the future when the masks can come off, the social distancing is loosened and I can sit down next to some of these people and share our stories if that is what they want. I now have a favorite verse from Psalms, which is “Be still and know that I am God”.
I was forced to be still and now I know … thanks be to God!
Sandra Thomson is a parishioner at Church of the Transfiguration, St. Catharines