In writing for the May issue of Kidlington News I find myself in a unique position. Firstly the deadline slipped – without the print lead times there was no deadline before Easter. I had it pencilled in for the Wednesday of Holy Week as the ‘official’ deadline of 12 noon on Good Friday was never going to happen!
But now I find myself in a truly unique circumstance in my life time. People in many places are describing the current situation as the most significant since the Second World War. Words like unprecedented, are used more than ever. Our political leaders are faced with challenges that nothing seems to have prepared them for. We are all learning to adapt to a new way of life.
But the new way of life is different for everybody. Some continue to work as if nothing had changed, for example food shop workers, postmen and women, delivery people, refuse collectors, nurses, doctors and all those who work in the health and care sectors. But of course everything has changed! Practising social distancing, protective clothing, physical barriers between shoppers and till operators, and so on. The fear that is genuine and understandable.
Others continue to work but in different ways. All my meetings happen sat at my desk in front of a computer. Our services happen in isolation, but connected by computer software, we can have five or more people taking part in a service viewed by lots of people via the internet, some from a long way away who would never join us physically. It takes more energy, and thought to work this way, like many others who are working from home rather than in an office, or out on the road as they are used to.
And there are those who cannot work – so many shops are closed, businesses stopped, people are ‘furloughed’, some will have no income. Those who are ‘self isolating’, or laid low with the virus and also stuck at home. And those who could never go out anyway.
When it is so easy to be overwhelmed by your own changed circumstances it is just as easy to forget others whose circumstances are also changed, but perhaps in a completely different way. The weekly applause/banging of pots and pans/setting off of fireworks, that takes place at 8pm every Thursday in honour of our NHS and other health workers is a connector for many; let’s keep it up.
We don’t know yet when things will change, and when they do what it will be like. We won’t go back to what it was like before for a very long time, maybe never. It is this that makes the coincidence with our Easter Remembering so poignant. On the 5th April we celebrated Palm Sunday. Jesus enters Jerusalem on a colt, accompanied by a huge number of followers. They were optimistic of a huge change, a new way forward, but within a week it had all shifted. The leader, Jesus, was dead, the followers were afraid, they did not know what to do. But in Easter Day we have the reporting of a risen Jesus, a new hope is established. The followers started to adjust to a new situation. It took a long time, but eventually his followers would take on a significant place in the world.
We don’t know what will come after Coronavirus, but let’s hope that lessons are learned, that health funding finds its proper level, that support for workers on insecure footings can be made real, and that the care for others that has found some expression in this difficult time might flourish when it is not enforced. And could care for the environment find a chosen focus rather than a unexpected consequence of lack of travel and production. So many imponderables, but as we are continued to be reminded; stay safe, support the NHS, save lives.
Martin Davis, Team Vicar, Kidlington Anglican Churches