At the moment there seem to be two different worlds coexisting, the world of the news with all its drama, tragedy, intrigue and fear and the world of people’s lives where there seems to be a stoicism, a desire to make the best of things to look at the positives. These seems to be very different worlds. I have been struck over the weeks at how many positive people I have met, whatever their circumstances they seem to be looking for the positives rather than anything else. In one sense that’s all any of us can do, but the news outlets are always looking for the next sensational story and in this desire to dramatise events they help create a widespread sense of uncertainty and fear. My positive experience of a few weeks ago was when I went to get a Corona Virus test, it was so straight forward and simple and the results came very quickly, that might not be everyone’s case but the ‘good’ news doesn’t seem to get reported as readily as the bad and that skews our perception of reality. In the midst of this situation there are plenty of good things happening even if we are all suffering difficulties in our own ways.
Two rare bits of good news that I have seen, which have given me a hope that I did not have a few weeks ago are that hospital deaths from COVID are much lower than they were in March and April and that the steroid Dexamethasone appears to be a ‘breakthrough’ treatment for corona virus sufferers. The two are linked but each offers a hope that we did not have before. In the first wave of the virus we saw death tolls displayed on our TV screens like scores from a zombie Video Game. It was horrific and these numbers were displayed like a league table for comparison with other countries. This was a cause of great unease for all of us. I can see some of those numbers appearing again and they are slowly rising but so far, they are nowhere near where they were before. And that is the first bit of good news. Although the virus is spreading deaths are at a normal level for this time of year, the numbers of those both going to hospital and dying from the virus are markedly down from March. A report this week focussed on how for the week ending 9th Oct there were only 127 more deaths in the UK compared to this time last year. Scientists seem uncertain whether or not face masks are helping keep viral spread down, and people staying at home may be helping too.
The second piece of good news is that the steroid Dexamethasone, which is used to treat Arthritis and severe allergies, appears to be fantastic in reducing the mortality rate among those suffering from COVID. It seems reliable and has made a big impact already. It is not certain that if you are seriously ill with COVID it will save your life, but your chances are much higher now.
I don’t know if you are familiar with the story of the man who is stranded on top of a tower block in a flood, he has no means of escape, and he tells himself that God will save him. Eventually a rescue helicopter comes and they tell him to get on board. He shouts up that he doesn’t need to as ‘God will save Me!’ As Catholics, we are firm believers that God works through each of us, He could wave a magic wand, but he consistently seems to work through us! He is working now through our scientists and policy makers; he is working through many people to bring hope in this crisis. We have to praise him for the hopes we have, even if they do not seem to come ‘directly’ from him. He has created us and given us the gifts and skill that we have. We too are called to be bearers of his hope, we have to use our skills and share our faith, we are called to be his light in the darkness. Let us pray for all those who are working tirelessly to help ease this pandemic, that they may receive the grace and strength they need at this time.
I would like to leave you with this beautiful prayer attributed to St Francis of Assisi in which we can ask God to make us bringers of his hope and love to our world. I think it is perfect for our present situation and for us, that we can do our part in bring hope to our world…
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
as to console,
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.