I have taken my own advice, not on purpose mind you, I stopped looking at the news during the Easter Triduum, where I took some quiet reflective time, and have not gone back to it. I saw a small bit of TV news last week and felt traumatised after ten minutes and switched it off. The plus side of this ‘fasting’ is that I am oblivious to the tensions and fears that seem to underpin news reporting but the downside is that I literally don’t know what is going on in the world or the country at the moment. I am sure I will go back to it eventually but for now it feels good to be reading novels and books which are nourishing me and helping me relax. I hope you are doing things which are helping you relax and keep you stress free in what are still very strange times, despite the beautiful weather.
The toilets on the Downs, the ones by Sea Walls, have always had a slightly seedy connotation in my mind, but over the last few months have have provided me and many others with an essential service. For me, too much water and too much caffeine are never a good mix! Recently a sticker appeared in the men’s toilet but has now been defaced and scraped off. However the words on the sticker struck me as profound. I am not sure if I can remember them word for word but they went something like this: ‘If your life is consumed by the constant fear of death, you have stopped living and are dying already.’. I love these words because they sum up my sentiments about our attitudes during this pandemic. Like all of us I am sure, my attitude to the Corona Virus has shifted many times from being cavalier to downright fearful to being somewhere in-between the two.
Fear seems to have gripped most of us to some varying degree. Fear plays an essential role in keeping us safe when we sense danger. But an all-consuming fear, which governs our entire life and our every thought and action, is like an invisible sickness crippling our spirit. Yes, we have to be sensible, but the balance between being consumed by fear or being reckless seems to be a hard one to find. Over the course of the pandemic those on both extremes have felt it necessary to make their feelings known, acting as a pseudo police force or a para-military liberation army. I think when we get the chance to look back on this time, a lot of stress and pain will gradually pour forth from us, stress and pain we didn’t even know we were carrying. That is why trust in God is so important for our spiritual health, he is the only one who can keep us safe spiritually as well as physically.
In Psalm 23 v 4 there are these beautiful lines; ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ It is trust in God that keeps us safe, safe from the prison of fear we can erect for ourselves, often fuelled by the news we consume. This trust of God makes us mindful of caring for others welfare too, stopping being cavalier. Maybe a challenging question to ask ourselves is, how much do we really trust God? Like really trust him – not just saying it or thinking it – because in the answer to this question lies our salvation, or wellbeing and often our emotional and mental wellbeing. As the sun shines and lockdown unwinds, hopefully we can joyfully meet the challenge of living life again as we walk hand in hand with our God.