Are you, like me, seeing a lot of things I took for granted in the past in a new light because of the pandemic? Is it almost jarring at times? No wonder, perhaps, that we now realise how precious simple freedoms like spending time with extended family, worshipping together in a building, visiting a favourite coffee shop with a friend, or just giving people we love a hug, really are? Maybe we have begun to feel greater compassion and empathy for people who have found lockdown pretty similar to their life before coronavirus because they never had those freedoms or opportunities others of us have enjoyed so easily? This has given me great pause for thought and repentence.
Covid 19 has unmasked the fact that our previous ‘normal’ may have contained all sorts of unspoken tensions, blindspots and privileges and that can feel very uncomfortable to consider. The same can also be said for the recent Black Lives Matter protests. It can make us feel a range of difficult emotions. It can be easier to push those thoughts and feelings away or deny them, especially if we are feeling tired or depleted. But perhaps the call is neither to run from these feelings or to double-down with greater rigidity or fear, but allow the Spirit to help us be receptive and open to new things, perceive deeper understandings of what love and truth in our time really look like?
I think for our own welbeing and that of our communities, it is crucially important that we can prod our old narratives and ways of seeing things and give ourselves permission to change our minds without self recrimination or shame. At a pace we can manage, we can begin to investigate the tensions this season is raising in and around us and be open to growth. We certainly have permission to change our minds. Not only is embracing new understandings allowed it is a powerful spiritual action and deep ethic of love. Without changing, we will never grow in Christlikeness after all, we will not let go of the things that mar the image of the Divine in us, and our capacity to be agents of His love and restoration in the world will be lessened. Danielle Nochols Wilson of Red Letter Christians has written eloquently about this, make a cuppa and take a read!
And if you are feeling that some of the things you once thought correct or useful are perhaps now uncertain or incomplete in ways that trouble you, I will leave you with some words of a beautiful poem (permission given by the poet). It is by Ann Lewin and you can read more of her poems and prayers in her book, Waiting for the Kingfisher.
She describes truth not so much as a solid castle in which we retreat nervously:
For some, Truth is a fortress, square and strong.
In which, once entered, safety lies.
Only like–minded people dwell there, none disturb
The calm and certain sureties of belief.
Outside, the world pursues its way, its noise and
Clamour offering small attraction to those
Whose knowledge keeps them safe beyond the
Drawbridge of conviction. If any try to breach the
Bastions of tradition, they are repelled with
Boiling scorn. Truth is impregnable.
but much more like a pilgrimmage or journey where we meet experience and people that help us see the truth more clearly:
For others, Truth is both journey and
Discovery, a Way which leads and
Urges without rest.
No castle for retreat, but
Camps, where fellow pilgrims join
To take refreshment in each other’s
Company. Assorted in experience, they
Enrich, enlighten, challenge and
Go on further exploration.