Well, we’ve made it to June. As I’m writing this in late May anything I write regarding the current situation could be wildly out of date by the time anyone reads this. Could be a real test of my prophetic skills.
However, I have just received a draught document from the senior leaders in this Diocese setting out how the Church will return to normal. It is a document with key dates missing, of course. These will be determined largely by Government policy, which will itself be determined by medical advice (at least in theory). Whatever advice the Government receives will itself be weighted by what happens over coming weeks, and that will be determined largely by the likes of you and me; how we behave and act, and what we do to reduce or increase risk. The onus is on us.
Our experience of lockdown will, of course, vary from person to person. Some will have experienced a relatively small change their lives, whilst for others it may have been cataclysmic. I have been repeatedly glad of where I live. When I have been able to get out I find myself surrounded by miles of beautiful coast and countryside, in stark contrast to, say, a family penned up in a block of flats surrounded by more blocks of flats. It’s not surprising people want to escape here when given a chance. Maybe though we should question the equity of who gets to escape here and who cannot.
One thing I have been aware of, both in myself, in others I meet, and especially in reading social media posts, is the gradual and continued rise in background anxiety. It’s led people to say foolish things they wouldn’t usually say, and express petty prejudices others wouldn’t normally see. Ironically, it has led us to be more honest. But, honesty can be painful, particularly when we find we do not like what we see, and we recognise we are looking in a mirror. No one is perfect. We could all be better human beings. I find praying helps. In part, this is because praying forces me to reflect on my own attitudes and behaviour; to confess; to change; to grow. There are good resources, tailored for a time like this, to help us deal with that disarming view we might get in the mirror. Here are two I think are particularly good:
supporting-good-mental-health – this is a Church of England resource and is ideal for those looking for a spiritual approach to mental wellbeing.
https://www.smilingmind.com.au – this uses a secular approach (mindfulness), and again, I have found it personally helpful.
Oh, and how will the Church be reopening? The answer is slowly, using small steps. I doubt we will be back to normal this year, and even when we are it will be a new normal and not the old one.
My best wishes to you and yours