We are living through very different and difficult times aren’t we, first for our health with Covid-19, and secondly for our livelihoods with the huge economic effects of locking down a whole country. Our health system is under great pressure, but the NHS, with its wonderful doctor’s nurses and support staff, are doing an amazing job. Our economic system is under great stress where for most work has had to stop overnight, but many behind the scenes are also doing an amazing job to provide us with all we need at home, and to make sure the economy is ready to come back to life. I am praying, like I am sure many of you, that hopefully by the end of May there will at least be some positive signs of hope and steps back to a normal life.
But what is normal life? Were we really leading normal lives before? What will be good to quickly go back as it was, or not to go back but change for the better?
We are still in the middle of what happening, so it is hard to say for sure what the big lessons from this time should be. I am sure there will be lots we will want do differently in the future with regard to our health (being better prepared for pandemics) and for our economy (being better prepared for ‘out of the blue’ shocks to the system). Health and Economic lessons will be very important, but perhaps what we need to reflect on most are the social aspects of life and what it means to be human and to lead a ‘good and successful’ life – individually, as families, as communities and as a society.
When we have to slow down or stop it can quite be uncomfortable can’t it if we are used to rushing around (I’m like that) but it can be a really good thing if we recognise, uncomfortable though it might be, that it gives us an opportunity to take stock, to decide to make some changes and then do things differently. For example, we do want and need the economy to get going so people can work to earn a living, but on the other hand, it is a good thing if we might somehow have less planes in the sky harming our atmosphere, less busy roads so we can hear the birds sing and overall less rushing around so we can appreciate life itself.
So, what might be the kind of lessons to be reflecting on as we are going slow, have had to stop, or for that matter because we are more busy than normal? I would love to hear your ideas as we try to work it out together, but here are some of the key things that have come to me:
Community v Individualism – life is about playing our part with other people in the place that we live
Family v Fracture – life is about appreciating each other as husband, wife, mum, dad, sister and brother
Friendship v Forgetting – life is about valuing friendship rather than forgetting to make contact
Needs v Wants – life is about focusing more on what we need than always want
Time v Rushing – life is about taking time and not always rushing to the next moment
Quality v Quantity – life is about the quality of what we have than always the quantity
Creativity v Consumerism – life is about being creative not just consuming
Contentment v Happiness – life is doing what is right and good than just our individual happiness
Love v Like – life is about the full breadth and depth of love not just love in terms of what we like
Communication v Silence – life is about taking the initiative to make contact not staying quiet
God v No God – life is about knowing God and trusting in him when life is uncertain
If these things are something of what would be good to be more central in our lives, how can we make such changes? May I suggest three words beginning with R: Reflect Repent Return
Reflect – in this time, take time to reflect of what it is you need to learn (as we all have something)
Repent – decide now, before we go back to normal, how you need to change direction (repent)
Return – ask God to help you be more of the kind of person he wants you to be and to it put into practice
A bible verse which might be helpful to use in your personal reflection is Galatians 5v22-23: “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Do let me know your thoughts on what you think we should be generally learning in this time, as I would love to share something of your thoughts in my June Parish News Comment.
With my prayers for you, your families and your friends over May
Revd James Hunt – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham with Blessed Mary, Upham
15th April 2020