Today's meditation comes from Nicola WIlliams, one of our Local Preachers
As I sit in my bed, looking out at the sunny day, whilst being laid low by some nasty virus which is causing painful coughing fits and a high temperature, I am having time to reflect on the events of the last few weeks. Today Mike and I should have been leading a Llanelli Ramblers Festival walk from Stackpole Church to St. Govan’s Head and what perfect weather it would have been for this most beautiful of walks. I’m sure I’ll feel better tomorrow.
I remember, as a child, the standard punishment for misbehaviour for my sister and I was banishment to our rooms. I can’t imagine that happening much nowadays, but in my day once you heard the cry, “Go to your room and don’t come out until I call you!”, you would go, without question. Sometimes it would be followed by, “And think about what you have done”. I wasn’t always sure, but it didn’t really matter because, fortunately, we were always called in time for the next meal, which was just as lovingly prepared as always, and everything would be back to normal. It wasn’t a bad punishment at all really because I enjoyed messing about in my room and was never bored.
It occurred to me that I am here again, banished to my room, but in a sense that is what happened to all of us with the lockdown. Stay at home and don’t come out until you’re called - except for essentials and emergencies, of course. Nobody so far has said, “and think about what you have done”, but I think many of us have been reflecting on our lives before the lockdown and how much everything has changed in this short space of time. Most people I speak to have quite quickly adjusted to this new way of life, and are finding many benefits, which no one could have foreseen, for example a slower pace of life, time to enjoy nature or catch up with jobs, learn new cooking skills or a craft that we never had time to do. Many of us guiltily say, “I’m quite enjoying it”.
The reason we feel guilty is because we know that this enjoyment comes at great cost to many of those around us. It’s easy to adapt when you have a nice space to live in and a garden to enjoy, when you are not afraid to be at home, when you have no money worries, when you don’t have a business that will almost certainly go under, when you are not fighting for breath or waiting for the dreaded phone call from the hospital, when you not having to work all the hours God sends fighting to keep people alive, or keeping society going, on the ‘frontline’. But even those who have suffered are appreciating the sound of birds singing, the smell of fresh clean air, the joy of random acts of kindness which have become so prevalent.
Furthermore, it turns out that when everything else is stripped away and people are feeling vulnerable, even after the initial stockpiling of provisions, most have been called or inspired to love in ways that they could never have imagined. When we were physically worshipping together, what seems like years ago now rather than weeks, what did we used to pray for? A greater sharing of resources, an end to homelessness, a solution to climate change, better funding and workable solutions for our health and social care, an end to knife crime and drug abuse, new life for our struggling churches, to mention a few.
Since lockdown there has been an unprecedented government led national sharing of resources in many countries globally and the value of money has fallen dramatically, the homeless have taken up residence in unused hotel rooms, the air is noticeably cleaner, health and social care are right at the top of the agenda, police are worried that crime, which has fallen considerably since March, will rise up again once people are back on the streets, and church and worship are being achieved in innovative new ways.
It feels as though Creation itself has sent us to our rooms and told us to think about what we have done. Disease is part of the evil that we live alongside, but the God of Love transforms even the effects of Covid 19 to achieve good. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, but Joseph was able to forgive them saying, "Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:19-20.
Of course, the ultimate transformation is seen in the empty cross of Christ. A grotesque instrument of torture transformed into a glorious symbol of eternal Love, Life and Hope.
Let us reflect what have we done, and what will we do in the future, what will life look like in the next months and years? As people of hope let us keep praying that, as the lockdown eases, love will continue to rise up in all people, so that things will never be the same again.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 NIV
We ask for a cupful, when the vast sea is ours,
We pick a small rosebud from a garden of flowers
Whatever we ask for falls short of God’s giving
For his greatness exceeds every facet of living.
(Helen Steiner Rice, Celebrations of the Heart)