Well, I intended giving up one or two things for Lent, but not toilet roll and cleaning products.
We’ll be well into Coronavirus restrictions by the time this is printed, and hopefully beginning to adapt. I suspect the period of boredom and frustration will develop once what would have been an Easter break is over, particularly if the weather is good. So, how are you coping?
For some of us the change in rhythm is the difficult thing to manage: those ordinary events which punctuate our lives are no longer there, and we realise we actually miss them. Or, it may be those special moments, now cancelled, that throw us.
Going through my diary, deleting events now postponed or cancelled, I realised we will not be able to gather together as hoped and mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe. That may need to be deferred until August when we mark the end of the war on all fronts. Much has been made in the press of the Blitz Spirit that supported the nation through darker days of that war. Truth be told, the whole idea of the “Blitz Spirit” was a propagandist’s invention, largely written after the event. Government studies at the time showed how people and communities actually reacted, and it wasn’t pretty. We’ve seen squabbles over hand-gel at the checkouts, but we’ve got a long way to go to match our ancestors. And, when the war was ended, uncertainty continues. British troops in the far-East often found the fighting continued, this time with the Japanese as their allies. Rationing not just continued but got worse. Tired industry saw strikes and a significant drop in productivity. And, to cap it all there was a new fear; that of atomic war. The Oxford Don and spiritual writer C. S. Lewis wrote, offering advice for how Christian people should live in the light of these testing times. He suggested that they should live as they had in earlier testing times; when plague swept the country, when Vikings ravaged the shores; when harvest were uncertain; to just carry on. Carry on with as much normality as they could manage: The civility and kindness which characterises our society is so easily cast aside when we are placed under stress. Our challenge and our hope are in maintaining those things as best we can. So, there is a shortage: Do I act to seize as much as I can for myself, or do I ensure those whose need is greatest have their need met first, and that my own need is only met from what is left? Wanting to protect ourselves and those we care for is a natural response to scarcity, but it is an animal response and not a civilised one, not when there is a sufficiency if only it is shared well.
Our abundant and beautiful world is presenting us with a challenge: one that we are more than able to meet. It is wonderful to see the dedication of health care and social care workers, as well as those who staff the supply lines, and also those volunteering within their communities to ensure the housebound stay supplied. May those who have let greed rule their hearts see the beauty of this offering and find the humanity to respond.
Whilst regular services and church events are cancelled, and our church buildings are no longer open for private prayer, resources have been placed on the website: www.coastalchurch.org.uk
Simon and I will do our best to offer support, either by phone, email or in person if possible. Please do not contact our retired clergy as they fall into the “vulnerable” category.