Friday 10 April 2020
Thank you for writing and it's always good to hear from you, whether in print or actually having a conversation. The good thing about all printed messages and voice recordings is that we can go back to them repeatedly and reflect again on the words. So often I find that there are new thoughts and insights on each occasion.
As you demonstrate, Covid-19 is affecting us all, but the isolation and lockdown are not as onerous for me as they are for many, not least because there are so many ways of communicating with others, especially when compared with those who endured such 'plagues' in other centuries. Yet, maybe our media is a major source of some of the fears you mention. Whilst some information is good and necessary, I doubt that we need almost continuous reference to the subject. That is not good, so I use the off button and sometimes keep it off, choosing something lighter instead. We are told that a balanced diet is essential (and I don't mind including a bit of Cornish clotted), a mix of work, leisure and rest as well. I think we need balance in our current situation, too, and we know ways of helping each other to find some of the pleasures in our limited lives.
I cannot remember hearing about the family you referred to, but did hear recently a man commenting on his new experience of home schooling. Apparently his children had tried to convince their parents that they had 4 hours of PE on the timetable at school! It made me smile as there was a timeless familiarity about these children; so normal. To varying degrees, we probably all need that which is familiar to us, to hold on to and reassure us that, in some sense, nothing has changed, even though simultaneously we feel that everything has changed. Like you, I also heard the man speaking about his new appreciation of his surroundings, following recovery from this illness. You commented on the fragrance of your pittosporum the other evening. I know the shrub, but would not have known how to spell it - but I've checked, Mark, and you're right! Of course, such flowers which exude their strong perfume at night, attract various creatures, including moths. We all know how moths are drawn towards the light and at this time of Easter, we are reminded of the Light of the World who draws us to Himself. However, this is just my thinking as I read your description, what struck me as "a message somewhere here".
Our garden is dominated by the purple and white flowers of honesty, the blue of forget-me-not, the creamy bell shaped blooms of comfrey and a carpet of pink violets which started as a few small plants from a dear friend called Mary. She was a wonderful plantswoman whose garden was full of surprises and now, I remember her always as I see her violets in bloom. Just beginning, there are hints of purple spikes on the rosemary plant in the herb garden. My amaryllis is not as advanced as yours, except perhaps in age - I think this is the tenth spring that the bulb has produced flowers, often with four on a single stem - that's true, but it always needs support.
Finally, in response to your comment on fear, our imaginations can run wild. I wonder if we worry most about the unknown process(es) and stages we may have to go through, before we reach whatever the conclusion may be. None of us know the outcomes, day to day, and that is why I hold back from the endless speculation, rather than news. I think I have referred previously to one of the most significant texts for me - as far as I know, it is not particularly associated with this time in the Christian calendar. While I like many of the individual sentences in the preceding verses, setting the scene so clearly, it's the final two for me: Romans 8: 38-39. Most of us probably know the value of having particular people in our presence and, if that is not possible, then knowing they care is vital. It seems to me that the comforting support of both these factors can be found in the text and I have returned to the words many times, as now.
Keep safe yourself and all the blessings of Easter to you,