I am the proud owner of one Pfizer Vaccination, my DNA is being edited as I write this! I have to say a big thank you to all the volunteers and staff at the Ashton Gate Vaccination Centre, they were brilliant from beginning to end and I would pay to go back to the two staff who gave me my Vaccine, they were so funny! I don’t like the idea of vaccines, I don’t really like taking medicine, but it feels like an achievement and hopefully it will help keep me and others safe in the months ahead.
Although restrictions are easing, for the moment, it is obvious that we are still in lockdown. The shops are open, but you can’t try anything on and they are pretty empty compared to how they used to be. And everything is discounted. And you have to wear a facemask. So while things feel a little more normal, they don’t feel normal. I was supposed to meet someone in their garden this week but cancelled because it was too cold for me to enjoy seeing them – I am a sensitive flower and feel the cold. I realise that we aren’t quite there yet. And also, the news of the ‘Indian’ variant is bringing caution to our minds.
Another sign that that the Pandemic is easing here is the news. At the height of the crisis, everything was wall to wall death and infection rates, now we are getting news from abroad, but what sad news it is. In particular I have been saddened by the emerging conflict in the Holy Land. I have had the privilege of visiting the Holy Land five times and every time I go, like most people, I think I come up with the solution to the problems the people there live with. Then five minutes later I realise that that idea won’t work and by the end of a ten day pilgrimage I leave more confused than when I arrived.
It is easy to sit in an armchair, watching the news, and decide what is right and wrong in Palestine and Israel and how to fix it. But it is highly complex and if it were easy it would have been done already. While being a city that is regarded by three world religions as sacred it is also, historically, and now, a place of bloodshed, violence, and division. I always find it strange how the most sacred and the most profane can meet in the same place, that is one of the great paradoxes of our world.
What a place like the Holy Land highlights to me is the importance of faith and prayer. I do not mean big Faith and in a religion, but faith in God. All I can do in my prayer is hold up to God the paradox of the Holy Land, the pain it causes me to see God’s people living in enmity, and trust in faith that God is working powerfully among the people of faith in that place. Somehow seeing the paradox of the Holy Land helps me accept the paradoxes I see elsewhere in everyday life – recognising that I am powerless over the events and situations of the world but can offer to God the things I do not understand brings me peace.
As we come out of fourteen months that have changed all of our lives, faith and trust in God are a great gift for us. As Christians we always have cause for hope. Today (Friday) we begin the great Novena to the Holy Spirt, nine days of prayer until the feast of Pentecost on May 23rd. Included in the Newsletter is the link to the Diocesan Novena to the Holy Spirit, I hope by opening our hearts to God in this powerful way, our faith will be renewed, and we will see God working in his loving way, in our lives.