STRANGE DAYS INDEED - A Personal Reflection On How I'm Coping

Stockman head

“No one told me there would be days like these

Strange days indeed

Very peculiar mama…” 

            - John Lennon


What do we make of such times, these Coronavirus Days?

The Stockmans are pretty much locked down. We are being very careful to protect Janice’s father who is with us for the foreseeable and to love our neighbours by taking all the measures that might stop the spread of this killer pandemic. We have had a couple of scares of being too close to someone with the virus but so far we are well. Thank God. 

We have been out to walk the dog, keeping our two metres apart from those we meet. I do believe that people are ironically more communal in our time of social distancing but when you walk past someone there is a new suspicion. It is probably not of the person so much as the virus.

Work for me is in some ways easier. There is one focus. It is a little like being on Mission Team in Uganda. I don’t have lots of plates to juggle, just one. I tired if I am juggling too many plates and if my schedule is too full! This is not as strenuous. 

Even better for an introvert I can do it all I do without the energy sapping big gatherings. Social media is a wonderful gift for the introvert and I am enjoying that. Staying in touch with people in all the ways available is easier for me. It is also very satisfying when people respond.

I remember the very first day I was on Facebook back in 2006. The conversations I had in the first 24 hours had me telling Janice that Churches should consider a Social Media Chaplain. We are pretty much all such Chaplains now. 

Oh… and do your remember those days when people were suspicious of social media. "It breaks up community and human relationships", they said! I always thought the opposite. Oh it has to be used discerningly. It sharpens discipleship for sure but we all need it now!

Then there is the creativity. The blogging I do has become more vital. Trying to create video messages and church services. It is my grá to use my favourite Irish word. I am buzzing with it. I even started writing Haiku poems! 

It does mean developing new skills. It is a very different thing speaking a message into a Smart Phone on the mantlepiece than writing a blog. This will be a new rhythm I have to learn.

That is the same with Sunday Service. Speaking to a phone sitting on a Joshua Tree box set, on a music stand is a rather different environment than a packed Church. I am not usually someone who looks at his notes while preaching but in this new practice I feel that eye contact is vital and not buzzing on congregational interaction means a slower adrenalin and perhaps the need to look down. Practice will make perfect… or closer to it at least. 

I was very satisfied with our first virtual service. Dave and Erin Thompson did a great job on the worship and a shorter service has proved popular with just short of 600 views so far. The little Thompson bloopers at the end were good too. People need that little laugh too. I need to be less professional next week to make you all smile!! 

There is another side of me filling up with concern about the days ahead. Some of my congregation have been and are very close to the virus. We have been following up some in isolation or with possible symptoms. My constant concern is people’s anxiety and their mental health. Then what might be up ahead in the way of real illness and potential death and grief. Particularly if we are in lock down. That will add to the grieving trauma.

I pray to God and try my hardest to trust God in ways I have never had to. Oh we think we have but really we know nothing about trust. Our wealth and health care have diminished our need to trust a transcendent God.

Yet, I must take a crash course in trust because in many ways that trust is all I have to share with others. So, I need it myself. I am constantly seeking the Bible passages and verses that I will be able to share as we go forward. 

So, as another week begins we will wait, fearing the bad news that might come in. God help us know how to respond. We will also try by all the means available to be a presence to all of those that we cannot be present with. I pray over us all the God given grace and imagination we will need.


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