Thursdays Thoughts - Life after Lockdown
Well it seems as though this virus has thrown a rather large spanner into the works, of our incredibly interconnected world. Our routines have been brought to an abrupt halt, and many of the places we frequented without much thought, are now closed doors. This may be an agitating time for you, as well as mind numbingly dull. But I'd like to suggest that this worldwide pause may be the perfect time for us really reflect upon the way we have been living, and to ask ourselves:
How we might change our lifestyle, once this lockdown is lifted, and the cogs carry on spinning again?
For me, in this strange season I've found myself pleasantly discovering many things I'd previously been oblivious too; like my neighbours! Meanwhile, it's been a time of also rediscovering some simple things in life that I cherish, but all too often I skim over, in the hurry of my week. Here are a few.
It feels uncanny that in the time where a two metre rule has barred us from being near each other, communities have simultaneously been more intimate and intentional than ever. My street is a charming example of that. In a matter of two days, my housemate and I managed to link up most of our street onto a Whatsapp group. Today as I write, this group chat has pinged incessantly with messages. Some are from the isolating elderly, responding to offers from the healthier neighbours to buy groceries for them, and leave them at their door. Other's are exchanging advice on staying sane whilst kids are at home. Or just this Monday even, we had an afternoon tea over 'Zoom' to get to know each other.
These beautiful acts of kindness are fulfilling what Jesus commanded in Matthew 22:39,
'Love your neighbour as you love yourself'.
Just two weeks ago I had shockingly still never spoken to any of my neighbours, not after 6 months of living beside them. My reaction to this was well put by one lady on our street Whatsapp
'It's such a shame that it has taken a pandemic to bring our street together. We must throw a huge street party once this is all over!'.
Could this be the breaking of our awkward and inward-focused British culture? And the making of real communities, that honour our neighbours, high above ourselves? I guess it's up to us to decide.
Slowing and simplifying
Bringing things closer to home, we as housemates have at last been sitting down for meals together. Also with all the time on my hands now, I've relished cooking creatively and unhurriedly. It's the stay-at-home Dad life I was created for. Now, my highlight of the day revolves around plating up a sumptuous meal for us all, and then enjoying it together, undisturbed, with no place else to be. In turn, our conversations and care for one another have delved into greater depths, and our evenings are now spent playing board games together, or curling up with the book I've always been too busy to read.
What's more, is that there is nothing modern and sophisticated about these simple joys, rarely do they involve technology either. And yet it seems that as I've slowed down and savoured the good things God has given me, there is no longer that nagging need to do, buy or be anything more, but simply be.
I wonder how often my previously frantic life would just skim over the surface of these deep joys we were made for? And is there a need for at least an evening's lockdown as a house together, after it's no longer a law?
Another joy has been running through university parks and seeing the spectrum of colour that spring brings. Last week I went on further into the city centre where there was not a single car in sight, not a single tourist either for that matter as the photos show. It was both eerie and tranquil at the same time. But with no noise to nauseate me, there was a great stillness, nothing shouting over the chirp of the birds, and no hustle of people, blinding me from the fine details of creation.
All the while, I'm sure we've all seen the wonders this lockdown has had on our global environment. Pictures of fish returning to canals and air pollution clearing, have brought us great momentary relief to our environmental crisis, and how much more relief to creation itself?
Perhaps this is the breath of fresh air that creation has been gasping for.
The question is, do we take this evidence of how we've been choking creation as our last warning to change our ways? I've certainly been asking myself how much I really needed to fly to Italy this summer, when I can clearly see the benefits of less air travel.
These are all just a few of my reflections, but I'm much more interested in yours. What has this pause in life taught you? Is there something you realise you've taken for granted like seeing one another, our NHS or toilet roll even? Or is it the very pace that you used to be living under, what needs to change? Why not take some time to think this through, or even bring it up over the dinner table this evening, and of course, leave it as comment below.