A very funny video parodies all the different isolators we are! (Look up Riona, the Unnatural Woman – It’s worth a watch for the full humour!) There are the all-day cleaners, the hoarders, the bakers, the people who drink wine all day, the work-out people, the over 30’s who join TikTok, those who enjoy home-schooling, and those who hate home-schooling, the computer gamers, the stress eaters, the feeders, conspiracy theory people, the DIY people, the gardeners, the Zoomers, the health-paranoid people, the people who have watched all the box sets and Netflix, people who sleep all day, people who stay in pyjamas all day, people who remind everyone to wash their hands, people who are learning a new skill, and those rediscovering an old hobby or reading all the books we intended to read for years. Can you identify yourself? Or more challenging – ask those who live with you!

We are all different but no different from those who have gone before. Thanks to Margaret Knapton for finding this poem, written in 1869 by Kathleen O’Mara, but reprinted in 1919 during the flu pandemic:

And people stayed at home
And read books
And listened
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
More deeply
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.

As I talk with friends and our ministers in Yorkshire on the phone, and shouting with neighbours at our Thursday evening clapping vigil – it is clear that every one of us is different. Whilst we all share in the worry for others going through this life-changing crisis, some of us are actually enjoying our own company and the peace and isolation of lockdown. While others of us, even in safe and comfortable surroundings are really struggling to cope. We are all different. I am amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of how people are finding ways to cope – yes, doing all those funny things listed, but in a positive and therapeutic way to keep minds and bodies as active as possible. Some have found ways to help others. I hear of many who have started telephone and internet ministry to keep in touch, others delivering newsletters and service sheets to those housebound, or helping with shopping. One granddad reads with his grandchild on line every day. You will all have stories of our reaching out a helping hand (even if a virtual one!) to help someone else.

But the punch line of the humorous video is that no matter how you are getting through it, you are doing a great job! And that’s the encouragement, we need as the lockdown goes on with no end yet in sight. That is what Paul writes when he writes to his friends in Rome: “And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

I continue in my prayers that you will be physically protected from illness, mentally protected from the wearing effects of isolation to keep a peace of mind, and spiritually protected to remain ever hopeful, knowing you are in the presence of God. It may be isolation – but it is not solitary!

In Christ’s love
Rev Kevin Watson, Yorkshire Synod Moderator

Image – Pexels – Brett Sayles