Well, who could have forecast that today I would be writing this when the whole world is living with the threat of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, and I have to get used to a different lifestyle while being socially isolated. For many of us, it is a time of anxiety, worry and fear. We are using new vocabulary: ‘Coronavirus’, ‘shielding’, ‘self-isolating’, ‘social distancing’, ‘lockdown’ and at one time (although this seems to have been dropped) ‘herd immunity’.
We see images of supermarkets with empty shelves; Travel is discouraged; Schools, Colleges and Universities are closed; Stores, apart from those deemed to be essential, are forced to close. For many people, this is a time when they are uncertain about their jobs. I know of several people who have had to take a drop in salary or have been furloughed. Again, here is another word which has entered our vocabulary.
Our lives and our world have changed. We are told “we are all in this together” but for many who are experiencing isolation through the current regulations it may feel that they are on their own.
I have become, in my later years, an avid listener to Radio 4. I’ve passed through the pop on Radio 1, the mix of music and chat on Radio 2 and have graduated to what has become my pre-set radio station. One of my favourite programmes is “Desert Island Discs”. This a programme that was first broadcast on the BBC Forces Programme in 1942. Its formula has never changed over the years. Invited guests imagine that after a shipwreck they are cast away on a desert island with only eight recordings and a luxury item to keep them going until they are rescued. Each one of the ‘castaways’ recalls his or her life and the special significance of their chosen recordings. Many ‘castaways’ have shared moving moments of difficulty, regret, disappointment and loss. Many of the guests have eclectic tastes and choose a mixture of old and new, classical and pop, happy and sad music. These recordings are chosen to help them survive the loneliness on their imaginary desert island. As for the luxury items they have been various and sometimes very odd. Boris Johnson wanted a large pot of French mustard. Archbishop John Sentamu requested a kitchen! By far, the most popular luxury item was a set of pencils, paints, pens and paper. The formula gives guests a virtual situation to talk about and make decisions through their chosen music about their physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Our current way of life of self-isolating, social distancing, shielding, waving to neighbours through a window, standing 2 metres apart from a friend and not seeing children and grandchildren is alien to us. It is not a virtual situation it is real; it is as if we have been cast away on a desert island, albeit in our own homes, and are having to get used to a life of solitude and for some people isolation and loneliness.
What has been wonderful is the readiness of people to check up on neighbours, to bring shopping, do a spot of gardening, collect prescriptions and keep in touch via phone, email or text. Many have taken the opportunity to stand outside their homes at 8pm each Thursday to clap and show their appreciation for all NHS staff, carers and key workers. These small acts of kindness and recognition mean such a lot.
When the COVID-19 has run its course, we will return to what some say is “normality”. It will be a pity if the good things that have come out of this difficult time were lost. Social distancing and self-isolating have given us time to reflect on the more important things in life and to think about the good (and the not so good) things that in the past have filled our lives. When we have left our “desert island” hopefully we can continue to look after the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual wellbeing not only of ourselves but of those all around us.
If you would like to talk to someone please contact one of our Ministry Team.
Local Priest – Revd Sally Turnbull – 07549 522494
Authorised Local Minister – Rosemary Cox – 01673 878258
Authorised Local Minister – Anne Hunter – 01673 861276
Your call will be treated in confidence.
May God bless us and keep us safe.