So Very Bristol

At times this week I have felt like I have been living in a Sci-Fi movie. Some of the headlines I have seen have been truly sensational like the one says that ‘the mutation has mutated’. The idea of a mutation mutating fills my mind with images from The Amazing Spiderman films where Dr Connors turns himself into a Lizard which keeps mutating into a more ghastly form with each DNA injection he gives himself. There was the headline which reported how a scientist had said ‘humans will no longer be able to build natural immunity to the virus’, because it will keep mutating to defy our body’s natural attempts. In other words as long as the virus is around we will need to be inoculated against it. Then of course the most sensational headline for us in Bristol is that we have our own strain of the virus, our very own mutation, of course we do, that is so very Bristol! We have our own Onion (found in the Avon Gorge) and the Bristol Pound and our own Blue Glass so why not our own mutation?

I have been giving some thought as to what might be the characteristics of the Bristol strain of the virus. I feel that it might be the cool kid of the Corona family, I wonder if the Bristol variant is the chilled out, laid back member of the family. I was mischievously wondering if it might target people who smoke dope more than others, that seems to be a very Bristol thing. Well, it took my mind off of the rest of the news for five minutes!

Of course there is lots of good news at the moment and a real sense of optimism seems to be building for a reopening of society by late spring or early summer. Let’s hope that that happens but as with this whole pandemic there are twists and turns at every moment, especially when you least expect them, so I will take it as it comes. Many people seem desperate to leave the prisons of their homes and get out, to get going again. Parents working from home and homeschooling have been under tremendous pressure. For those who have lost jobs over the pandemic kick starting the economy is the priority and for those who have had delayed medical treatment the easing of lockdown will bring hope of treatment while others may see little change to their lives when we get going again.

While out for a walk on Thursday I was chatting to a friend about what life will be like when lockdown ends. It is hard to predict and there appear to be so many mental health issues developing, especially among the young that there may be a lot of work to do there. But on a personal level my friend and I were saying how we cannot go back to how things were before the pandemic. Because we lived crazy lives, too full, too busy and too tiring. We were a bit stuck about how things might be different, our hope is that we go back to something between how things were and how they are now.

As I wrote last week, this is a good time to reflect on who and where God is calling you to be as we come out of lockdown. Maybe you had the perfect life that you are dying to get back to, but maybe you have learnt some things about yourself that you are going to use to shape the years ahead. This pandemic has been a crisis of death as much as anything else. It is a time for Christianity to shine because Jesus is the antidote to death. As individuals and as members of a parish community God places a call on us to be his light to our world. The most impactful way we can be His light is through our personal relationships and encounters; by showing kindness, thoughtfulness, enquiring as to how people are, offering a prayer for their struggles and even an invitation to join you at church or to join the Alpha course. In Jesus we have hope and our society needs hope and will be seeking it in the years ahead. Let’s use this lockdown time to ask God how He wants us to respond and live our lives so that they show His presence to our world.

Fr Tom

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