This has been weeks in the writing. How do I get the tone right in these strange times?
The number of times I’ve been mulling over what to write and getting nowhere, because there’s really nothing at all that I can usefully say just now.
Friends are grieving, unable to have traditional funeral or memorial services for loved ones; facing apparently unsurmountable financial challenges; fearing for their health and that of their families; feeling (& being) isolated; tackling this pandemic on the front line – in healthcare and other essential services – and risking their lives in doing so.
There’s a very definite ‘atmosfear’ in the community and, particularly on social media, it’s starting to turn to real, reasoned anger.
The questions are coming from all angles… Who’s responsible for the levels of illness and death and why didn’t they act sooner? Why did we decide not to test community cases sooner? Why have figures not included deaths in the community or in care homes until now? Why is there not more financial help available sooner? How will we ever get back to normal? What will the impact of this be on the nation’s mental health?
So the reason I don’t know how to write a blog just now is that I feel our family are relatively unaffected and, therefore, out of touch. We worked from home anyway, so haven’t had to change that. We’re pretty healthy, and are able to support others by doing shopping and messages* when they cannot. We have plenty of space in the house and garden for den building, and can go out for walks, runs or bike rides here without seeing anyone else.
Luke & I went for a walk just now, and watched in wonder at the gate of a field while a newborn calf tried to stand, repeatedly, and fell back each time. Her mother nudged, licked and encouraged her with gentle sounds, and we left them to it (after a long conversation about cords and belly buttons!).
Life is continuing the cycle, as it always has. New life is arriving and bringing joy, spring blossom is brightening the country lanes, the cows have returned to the field opposite us for a new season of wandering & trampling our lawn!!, and the sunsets are gorgeous, pink, and happening well after the boys’ bed time**.
As flowers and shrubs start to bud and bloom again, I’m reminded of so many friends and family who are important to us. Please let us know how we can be praying for you.
During the holidays I’ve been doing this jigsaw, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. The satisfaction of finishing a tricky section is enormous! And, whilst working on it, I was struck by the fact that there’s a very definite process of refinement that goes on. The first sort through the 1500 pieces was simply to find edges and corners. Then to find birds and wildlife. Then to find castles and landmarks…and so on.
Each time, pieces that meant nothing previously become relevant as I notice a wing tip, or a shadow cast by a landmark or a fish.
It made me think how, even though we cannot fathom a way out of this just now, or cannot see why our dreams or ambitions are being shattered, there will come a point later when these pieces of the puzzle will mean something.
We’ll have made connections in our community that we didn’t have before. We’ll have benefited from, or shared, generosity, love and wisdom that will help us in future. We’re finding new appreciation of family time, new ways of maintaining relationships, and new ways of working and prioritising.
Yesterday was the last day of our Easter ‘holidays’ so the boys and I spent a wee while writing the daily timetables for the new term. Ballycarrickmummy (& Ballycarrickdaddy)*** will be starting again in earnest, and I’m really looking forward to it. As opportunities to spend time with the kids goes, it’s great.
Now, don’t read me wrong – tempers fray, we get bored, communication fails…but I’m learning plenty from the boys about resilience, frank conversation, and am delighted by how willingly they learn and share knowledge with one another.
Their teachers have provided fantastic resources for learning and, as Ballycarrickmummy timetables looooooooong lunch breaks and finishes early on a Wednesday and a Friday, we’re being realistic about the challenges of this process! We’ll keep you posted…
Thank you for reading, as always. Stay safe and keep in touch.
* this means ‘errands’ in N.I.
** also, you can see Venus at night – it is SO bright
*** the boys’ school in real life is called Ballycarrickmaddy..!