I keep being asked how we are going with the COVID-19 lockdown. Like most people, I am watching the news, I have, with some discomfort, downloaded the app and sought to be a good citizen of the nation following Government requests. Although I’m a bit of a rebel, this has not been a time for rebellion but a time to make whatever contribution we can.
We have become a Zooming family without the normal zooming around. One could suggest it’s the best unpressured zooming we have ever known. Grandchildren log in for a weekly zoom showing us craft and art works that suggest Picasso or Michael Angelo potential. In fact one of the grandchildren has been known to paint the walls of the “Pristine Chapel” that mum and dad call home. What a delight…not!
To be honest there have been times during the lockdown when I have felt like painting the walls, only to be woken from such foolish notions by the memories of how much fun painting walls was the last time. Why paint yourself, when you can watch your grandchildren doing it as a safe distance without the clean up? As someone who lives six hours from children and grandchildren, COVID-19 has introduced our family to a form of gathering together over distance that will be an ongoing blessing. It will never replace being in each other’s presence but it provides happy connection.
In our own neighbourhood I have written to neighbours with a view to ensuring that we take care of one another. I have been really thankful to hear from a neighbour making face masks for medical staff, while another neighbour shared that he was catching up with the old gentleman opposite to see how he was going. A number of others have let me know that they are happy to sign up to help those in need. Neighbourhood Watch is a positive against crime but to neighbourhood care is a positive for life together. In what was an increasingly individualistic age that hindered community, COVID-19 is potentially putting community back on our radar and pulling us together.
I often say that the gift of encouragement is in decline across all areas of life. I know by personal experience from those I play golf with that we Aussies offer encouragement in humorous ways – “we take the mickey”. That’s fun, but in truth, encouragement of others is often silenced by overly high expectations that deliver more complaint than compliment. COVID-19 has offered us all a moment of reflection on what is most important.
I recognise that sadly the only important thing in some people’s lives is themselves. It will be interesting to watch COVID-19 give birth to litigious actions and recriminations. Perhaps such actions reflect a human sickness more threatening than the COVID-19 virus. Such actions might satisfy the lust for money or vengeance but do nothing for the heart of society. In fact the next time I get a cold, I think I will blame the blokes at golf and charge the golf club for my cough lozenges. It is no surprise that people focused on self would be the loneliest and saddest people in the world if not for the undeserved grace and patience of those prepared to put up with them. Here’s a plea on behalf of the gracious, those who put up with you, “You don’t have to be a complete ratbag all your life. You want to be happy? Then look away from yourself and start considering others more important than yourself. Do this and it’s just possible people will start to like you.” Funny that!
Having said all this, COVID-19 has made many consider again how thankful we should be. We live in a great nation, with steady government, great policing, lifesaving medical provision, neighbours who care and the technology to bring family together even when separated by distance.
I am not surprised that God highlighted three crucial things for a time like this – Faith, Hope and Love. Our insecurities demand faith in something greater than ourselves. Life without hope would lock us down permanently and isolate us from joy. Faith, hope and love - and God said the greatest of these is love. We need God’s love, the kind that shows an undeserved grace to a people full of themselves. Our family, friends and neighbours, our community will only survive where love abounds.
How are you going with COVID-19?