My granddaughter (the one living with me) has tested positive for Corona Virus. She’s perfectly well except for losing her senses of taste and smell and feeling a bit queasy but, of course, as we are quarantined and as she’s a 17 year old with a great social life normally, she occasionally feels a bit sorry for herself. Looks quite tragic actually. Good job I have a hard heart, eh?
It seems that the virus has now reached this village. In addition to Frankie, someone up the hill has it, two near-neighbours have tested positive (one is quite poorly) and while four cases may not seem like a big deal, none of them have had contact with each other, they all live and work separately, and so must have been infected by yet others. All the children on the school bus have been isolated, the senior school year is closed, and the village High Street, usually a busy mix of slowing cars, wobbling bicycles, dog walkers and shoppers, feels grey and subdued. More than that, it feels sort of… what word am I searching for? … not quite ‘peaceful’ and less than ‘serene’, it’s sort of… what is the word? The nearest I can come to it is ‘vulnerable‘.
Many people are feeling vulnerable for the first time in their lives. Back in the Summer I was paddling through the waves with my dogs, while in the distance our local policeman was hitching up his boat after tending to his lobster pots out in the bay. As he drove off the beach he saw me and drove all the way over, simply to warn me, to tell me to take care. There was real desperation in his voice as he tried to impress on me that Covid was coming and it was real. One of the first in the country to catch it, way back in February, after working away from home, he knew the severity of the virus while to us it was all still ‘out there somewhere’ and hardly more than a rumour. We don’t know each other well but he’s seen me around and he’s a caring sort of bloke and he had felt compelled to drive over, to tell me all about his experience, to warn me graphically and emotionally. A young parent, fit, a sportsman and fisherman, the revelation of his own vulnerability was such a shock to him that he was traumatised and he’s only recently returned to work. That day, knowing the reality of Covid, and its dangers, he was driven with real urgency and compassion to warn others.
If we really believe in the truth of the Gospel, if we really believe in life after death, why don’t we feel like that young policeman? Why aren’t we desperate to warn people, to tell them about the God who loves them, the God who saves? Why aren’t I telling everyone I meet, ‘driving across the beach’, urgently, to share everything I know, warning them…..
My old dad, in his 8o’s and 90’s, would fight off all my stepmother’s attempts to have him tested for this cancer, and that cancer, this condition, that allergy. I remember him protesting “Bloody hell, Norah, I’m going to die of something, sometime. Let me get on with it!” and when there was a news item about a new cure for some disease he said mildly “If they keep on finding cures for things, we won’t have anything left to die from.”
We will always have something to die from. James says ‘you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes’. That could seem a bit depressing, eh? But I think it’s an exciting reminder of a great adventure ahead.
Nothing wrong with mist – there was an unearthly mist on the beach one day last week, and while it was there, we loved it. The sea was whispering towards the land that morning, not rolling in, no crashing waves, no circling birds, but quietude and beauty. The dogs paddled and scampered, and it was just glorious. Then the sun came out, and there was another sort of glorious day waiting, a clear sky and wheeling gulls, and the outgoing tide. Life changes, life ebbs away, there is no stasis in this world. Covid is a reminder that we are simply passing through, a memento mori, but maybe it’s also a reminder to celebrate life, to make the very most of it and to be grateful for this wonderful gift. Sometimes, just sometimes, the reality of God’s love is overwhelming, it fills the senses to overflowing, and that’s when nothing will do but telling someone “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.” That’s what Job says but I should be saying it as well, it should be springing from my lips… I should be racing across my beach, driving through my life, telling those who don’t already know…. all life is change, and nothing is eternal, apart from God’s word and the human soul (I nicked that from a friend)
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. … Psalm 148