The art of productive hibernation

By Fr. Roy Cimagala


WE are not, of course, mere plants and animals whose periods of hibernation are periods of sheer inactivity. But with our current situation where we are made to restrict our movements and are asked to stay home, we should somehow learn the art of a kind of hibernation that is proper to us as humans.

Hibernation, of course, is a kind of rest. It’s not actually pure inactivity since that would be tantamount to being dead. The plants and animals that hibernate may be inactive externally, but internally, there is some action taking place. To a certain extent, we too should know how to limit our external activity, but we have to make sure that internally we are active.

I remember a saint who with his followers was forced to stay indoors for quite a while because of a war that was going on. He was always reminding his followers to be active studying and praying, instead of just doing nothing or worrying. He told them that their restricted movements were meant for them to grow in the inside.

True enough, after the war they came out learning new things, like learning new languages which became helpful as they had to go other countries for their apostolic mission. They also acquired new skills.

We need to realize that all these protocols about quarantine, staying at home, social distancing, wearing of face masks and face shields should not affect us so adversely as to undermine our sanity, our human growth and development, and especially our spiritual life. There’s always of way of how we can take advantage of them, of how we can leverage them.

We need to activate our faith in God, our trust in his loving and ever-wise providence. We need to keep a good sporting attitude toward this current predicament of ours. Let’s be creative and inventive, and maintain a good sense of humor. There is no point in worrying at all. It would just make things worse.

There is actually a lot to learn and to do while in a restricted lifestyle. With all the developments around, we all have a need to catch up with the many new things that are coming out. We can do a lot of reading. And it’s also good that we get to do some basic things that we usually delegate to others during normal times, like cooking, laundering, gardening, etc.

And this kind of hibernation should not in any way isolate us from others. If at all, it can even enhance our communion with them. We can always pray for them. And yes, we should try our best to help them. There are those who are suffering materially, in terms of lack of food, money and other basic necessities. Let’s do what we can to extend help to them.

But more than helping others in their material needs, we have to be ready and most generous in helping them in their emotional, mental and, most specially, their spiritual needs. We are never lacking in ways of extending this kind of help to others.

Again, our forced hibernation can be very productive if we want it that way. God’s grace is never lacking, and corresponding to it will certainly give us a lot of ideas and initiatives whatever the conditions are.

It’s all a matter of faith that should animate our attitudes, outlook and reactions to whatever may occur in our life.