I am feeling very cut off from everyone today. Lockdown has eased but there’s still no church meeting, no coffee sharing, no one is pushing the door open and calling “It’s only me! Just thought I’d pop in…” The idea and reality of an open door is really important to me, central to my life. For the last 8 years, usually living alone, it has become a big ‘thing’ to me to always have my door open, from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed. Neighbours and friends know they can just walk in. It’s how I’ve kept in contact with the world. When you’re elderly and single and your family lives some distance away, and most of your friends are in relationships or married, it’s very very easy to become isolated and entirely self-centred. Even a bit (I admit) paranoid that everyone else is OK and you’re the only one feeling that way. I was heading into real trouble until I realised that the open door ploy might just be the answer, and it was.
Then, just over a year ago the world changed, lockdowns and distancing, and masks and all that. The snub went on the door and no one calls any more.
But looking at my stats for the last ten days I see that this blog has been read in the UK, in Bangladesh, Kenya, Australia, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Canada, America and France. Wow. I am so curious about you all. What on earth do you make of the meandering thoughts of a woman who lives in rural Wales, in a busy village, on the edge of the sea? How old are you? Do you have families? Millions of kids? One or two? Or just a dog, a few chickens scratching around? Or are you in an apartment building? How about a bird or an aquarium? Oh, I want to know…. Are you in a bungalow perched a hillside? Do you have a husband, a wife, a lover, a mate, an elderly parent to care for, are you alone or in a crowd? Are you a writer, a farmer, a shop worker, a poet, an artist, a potter…. oh, so many questions.
Hello, hello, whoever you are. What on earth do you make of this blog? Are you feeling a bit cut off too?
When the Apostle Paul was in prison he wrote to the Ephesians and this is one of the many things he said about his incarceration and all the hard stuff that was coming his way:
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
That’s the Message translation and it really speaks volumes to me about what we should do when we are feeling a bit disconnected…. I’m not in prison, not sleeping on a hard floor, undergoing privations and beatings and goodness knows what. So, shake yourself, Luce, think like Paul. Reach out and experience the breadth of Christs’ love. He doesn’t give it so that I can hug it to myself. He gives it so it can tumble into the world, generous and welcoming and full of joy. The opposite of ‘cut off.’
OK, today I am going to welcome you into my life. You can’t open the door and walk in, so I’ll bring you in, instead. I’m sitting at my small corner desk as I write this, in my home which was once a church building. It used to be the overspill for the big chapel next door, where they held their Sunday school, and church meetings, and had their church office. Now it’s just a spacious living area, with a corridor leading to two small bedrooms and a bathroom. That’s it! No garden, no drive, just step out of the front door onto the street. A living space, a sleeping space and a washing place. What more does anyone need? Want some pics?
This is my front door…..
And this is the view down the street, from that doorway on a snowy morning
I’d like to show you the space I live in but it’s really difficult to get the scope of it… I have one pic, when the place was being redecorated, that shows the height of the room, so here it comes…..
My desk is just inside the front door, the sun is streaming in today, the sky a wonderful blue with great rolling clouds… look….
There’s a cosy fire for winter days
And plenty of room for friends
But usually there’s just me…. and the hounds. Here they are, the two white ones are mine and I’m fostering the little brownish one for a year
And here’s the beach I walk on every morning (and the couple who bubbled with me in lockdown and kept me from going feral)
Sadly, the church is closed at the moment, due to Covid, but this is the outside view. It’s just a couple of miles away.
But the church is not a building, the church is the people, and we have found a new and exciting home on the internet, every week offering a very real welcome to the church family and while most of us have been aimlessly mooching around for months, our leadership has been finding new ways of reaching out, sermons and services of course, but a discipleship group too, and Zoom prayer meetings, and now an Alpha course. This is the one minute intro to our online service,
You can find all the services for the last year at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25TpY6Ljtec&t=157s
So! There you go. Now you know the world I’m coming from. Now you’ve popped in and met me.
I think that our greatest responsibility to each other in this strange Covid time is to make contact, and to do more than that, to make that contact open and meaningful. It’s too easy to say “We can’t meet, so we’ll just sit tight, batten down the hatches, wait till the all-clear sounds.” By then we will have lost friends to illness and loneliness. Normally sociable people are already feeling estranged and awkward about the simplest journey, to the bank or the supermarket, about meeting up again, unsure of themselves after so long alone.
This is just woolly minded me saying to anyone who wants to listen, that we can still reach out , even when our country is experiencing a second or third wave, even when we’re weary of restrictions and beginning to feel a tad rebellious, even when friends are ill and we’re missing our family. Even when, not to mince words, we’re bloody well fed up with the whole damn pantomime. We can still reach out. Make a phone call, write a letter (!), send an email, forward a silly joke, walk to the park and meet who ever’s there, look out the window and when someone passes, risk a chat! It’s possible. It’s possible to make contact, safely distanced, even now. You might make someone feel a whole lot better about their day.
I wish I could sit with you all, one by one (I’m not great in huge groups) and look into your eyes and enjoy being with you, but until then….
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3