How are you? I thought this seemed like a good opportunity for a check-in, a chance to review how you are doing in lockdown 2. I am privileged to know some really positive and strong people who I rely on at times like this to keep me focussed. You may be doing well this lockdown, you may have even mastered the greatest virtue of them all – acceptance. If you have you are probably doing well. For many people this lockdown seems to be tough, you may be feeling that and there is no shame in that. When we went into this lockdown I thought I sensed a note of resignation in the people I spoke to, that then seemed to give way to tiredness and now I am hearing people expressing their anger over various things. Anger not related to lockdown per se but maybe a deflected anger arising from their circumstances. If you are feeling angry, maybe take a moment to sit with it. Where is it coming from? There is a beautiful episode from one of the Desert Fathers which illustrates the nature of anger very clearly.
The Desert Fathers were monks who lived around the Egypt area in the early centuries of Christianity. They retreated to the desert to escape from the world and give themselves entirely to God. One of them writes how one day he was working with some tools and he got angry with the tools. He stopped and reflected on how he used to get angry with people and he had always blamed the people involved. But here he was getting angry again but with a primitive tool. He could not blame the tool as it had done nothing wrong and he had to conclude that the anger came from within him. Anger can be a very positive emotion because if we have it, It is usually telling us something wrong needs fixing. But if we harbour it or nurture it we are misusing it. If you are feeling angry or frustrated at something or someone at the moment it maybe that your sense of futility and helplessness is the cause, not the person or thing you are feeling angry at.
Lockdown 2 seems to have pressures that weren’t there in lockdown 1, the weather and shorter days seem to be playing their part. But something that is consistent with lockdown 1 is the uncertainty. It would just seem easier if the government said to us that we were locking down for three months with a short break at Christmas, but we were told it was for one month. That has not been revoked but the language has changed, ‘you might get Christmas’ has become the new language, it shifts our focus without addressing the fact that we should only have 2 weeks of this lockdown left. It sets a new expectation. And then if we do get a few days at Christmas we will have to pay for it after Christmas, again the groundwork for an extended lockdown is being laid. I am not suggesting that lockdown is not in the best interests of those who are vulnerable but that the messaging leaves so much uncertainty.
Two weeks ago I wrote about nestling in the heart of Jesus. I need to heed my own words. It is resting in the Lord that will bring the peace I so deeply crave. If you have accepted the situation and have some serenity because of that remember to turn to Jesus. He is the fulfilment of all your longings. If you are beginning to struggle, there is no shame in that, many people are struggling at the moment, but remember Jesus is your hope, He is your light in the dark, your rock amidst the shifting sands of this time. As followers of Jesus we are called to be his presence to our world, we are always his light in our world but when there is a greater darkness the light shines more powerfully. Do not underestimate the effect of your small gestures and kind words to those around you. If you are on the phone to an angry friend maybe listening kindly is your gift to them that day! Sharing our struggles in a constructive way can really help, but above all, sharing our hope in Jesus is the light we bring to our world!