Anxiety and hope

Published on Thu, 19 Mar 2020 10:45
Vicar's Blog

Dear all


Each day feels very different to me. Today I woke up feeling anxious and sad, as the reality begins to bite and the many ways in which our lives are radically disrupted become clear. I feel sad for the young people whose exams are cancelled, and anxious about how they will get the qualifications they need. I feel anxious for the traders in our Food Court who have had to shut up shop: anxious for those who have lost their jobs, and for my friend who is an anaesthetist at St Thomas'; and sad because of all the good things which are no longer happening. I feel anxious for those who are sick, and all of us as we worry about our own health. 


Once again we are reminded of our human vulnerability - how fragile life is. Now is the time when our dependence on love, on God, is more clear than ever. 


But I am also reminded of our human resourcefulness, and our infinite capacity to love and to transform. I offer you today a poem, which you may have seen already, but just in case you haven't:


Pandemic


What if you thought of it

as the Jews consider the Sabbath- 

the most sacred of times? 

Cease from travel. 

Cease from buying and selling. 

Give up, just for now,  

on trying to make the world 

different than it is. 

Sing. Pray. Touch only those 

to whom you commit your life. 

Center down.   


And when your body has become still,  

reach out with your heart. 

Know that we are connected 

in ways that are terrifying and beautiful. 

(You could hardly deny it now.) 

Know that our lives

are in one another's hands. 

(Surely, that has come clear.) 

Do not reach out your hands. 

Reach out your heart. 

Reach out your words.

Reach out all the tendrils 

of compassion that move, invisibly, 

where we cannot touch.   


Promise this world your love- 

for better or for worse,

in sickness and in health, 

so long as we all shall live.   


Lynn Unger 11 March 2020


Also I offer you the daily email from Richard Rohr, who often features in our conversations: 


Our feelings of urgency and devastation are not exaggeration: they are responding to the real human situation. We're not pushing the panic button; we are the panic button. And we have to allow these feelings, and invite God's presence to hold and sustain us in a time of collective prayer and lament. 


I hope this experience will force our attention outwards to the suffering of the most vulnerable. Love always means going beyond yourself to otherness. It takes two. There has to be the lover and the beloved. We must be stretched to an encounter with otherness, and only then do we know it's love. This is what we call the subject-subject relationship. Love alone overcomes fear and is the true foundation that lasts (1 Corinthians 13:13)

We have been invited to do two things by the Bishop of Southwark, who has sent a Pastoral Letter to the Diocese


It is so important in these difficult times that we are there to offer hope in the face of fear. As we hold onto hope whilst facing reality, I want to invite you to pray together for our nation and for all those affected by the coronavirus at 1pm each day. Please pause in whatever you are doing and say the Lord's Prayer and again at 7pm. Where it is safe to do so perhaps you could light a candle in your window each evening as a symbol of Christ's light in our world at this dark time. 

He also asks us to ring the bell before daily prayer, which I will try to do, Trisha! 


The WhatsApp group is alive: let me know if you would like to join. And further details will follow very soon about the livestreamed service on Sunday. Many of us are in touch with one another, and at the moment people seem to have the support they need. I am sure many of you are linked into other local networks as well, such as the Bishops Ward Covid Aid WhatsApp group. Please let me know if you are aware of anything further needed by anyone. 


Two final things for today. Sarah Gifford sent me this: 


Someone sent me this around WhatsApp. I can't verify that it is all true but it gave me some hope as it may do for others if you wished to share.  More people will share negative news than good news. But there is still good news out there.... -


- China has closed down its last coronavirus hospital. Not enough new cases to support them. 

 - Doctors in India have been successful in treating Coronavirus. Combination of drugs used: Lopinavir, Retonovir, Oseltamivir along with Chlorphenamine. They are going to suggest same medicine, globally. 

 - Researchers of the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody against coronavirus. 

 - A 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for 6 days in Wuhan, China. 

 - Apple reopens all 42 china stores, 

 - Cleveland Clinic developed a COVID-19 test that gives results in hours, not days. 

 - Good news from South Korea, where the number of new cases is declining. 

 - Italy is hit hard, experts say, because they have the oldest population in Europe. 

 - Scientists in Israel likely to announce the development of a coronavirus vaccine. 

- A network of Canadian scientists are making excellent progress in Covid-19 research. 


And a scripture verse: Matthew 10.29-31


Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.


With my love, and much prayer,


Giles 

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