I honestly thought, when the requests came through that we were to stop teaching, I would have lots of time to write. How wrong! My time is spent in long and lovely conversations daily and it is surprising how much time that was once spent travelling from school to school is now spent keeping up with everyone in lockdown and just checking that everyone in our congregations is doing okay. Church work has expanded exponentially for me . I could not have imagined it.
No! None of us could have dreamt this stuff up. New rhythms rule, priorities shift, we get to know our neighbours and those who were just acquaintances now become friends. We get in contact with people we haven’t spoken to in years. We video call people we have never spoken to before and we share conversations with faces on a screen in ‘real time’. Our vision for the future is misty and we hang onto handrails that help us through crisis. When we find our footing, we start to settle into a steady pace and we begin to feel like we can go the extra mile, especially for others. More than that, we actually want to because we’re all in this together.
I thought I should record some thoughts, by making time to write. It’s a Saturday in the sun – a safely guarded day off. With my laptop in the garden, beside me there’s one daughter writing a story on her laptop and the other is talking to herself inside the kitchen with the door wide open (that isn’t lockdown speaking, it’s normal. Actually, I think she is reading aloud to herself). My wonderful husband is working behind me, earthing-up the potatoes and weeding the carrots. The dog basks on her pillow. The boys are in bed, I think. No that’s not true. I have seen one who appeared in his dressing gown to hang this laundry on the line and I have just heard him sneeze! But the other sleeps. He finished his shift close to midnight, last night. He won’t surface until lunchtime when he will appear and make himself a super-duper, whopper-zinger brunch thing with all his own ingredients he buys for himself and keeps in a claimed corner of the fridge.
Why should I write today, apart from circumstances being conducive? Well, last night as we went to bed my husband and I congratulated ourselves.
“Well done!” we said, “We have managed to get another child to adulthood!”
Yesterday, Boffin officially became an adult. I thought that was an event worth noting. There are now four in this household. One wonders when we should start behaving like it. Now adults outweigh children, are we not achieving what we set out to do when this great adventure of parenting began? It always amuses me that to be a parent requires no qualifications but 120% capacity to give love. This is the degree that qualifies us. I have been thinking a lot about it lately in an attempt to help support parents grappling with the challenges of having their children at home all the time and attempting to maintain some level of home learning in a context they have not chosen. I have always enjoyed the liberty of choosing to home educate but when it is thrust upon you, it is a different matter. Yet, parenting is forever. We will always be a parent whether our children are newborn or adult.
There will always be new challenges to adapt to and our ability to embrace the change sets the pace. Trying to think ahead a little I have found myself questioning the stubbornness of my nature. There is a difference between stubbornness and steadfastness and I have been questioning myself as to where my response comes from: stubbornness or steadfastness?
It’s funny the questions we ask when everything gets shaken.
In the bath this morning, again thinking ahead to some future challenges I found myself asking God,
“What do we do?”
And immediately the song ‘Stay Close To Me’, popped into my head. It’s not a song I know very well, but perhaps should be added to the 18 year old’s lockdown play list. It would be slightly more uplifting addition to his current list, which includes: The Sound of Silence, Pop Goes The World, Wake Me Up When Its All Over, It’s The End Of The World As We Know It, Another One Bites The Dust and The Final Countdown.
It was not just a song that popped into my head. I was reminded of a couple of verses from the Bible too. These are helpful for this time and shall conclude here.
“But the one who always listens to me will live undisturbed in a heavenly peace. Free from fear, confident and courageous, you will rest unafraid and sheltered from the storms of life.” Proverbs 1:33
“I leave the gift of peace with you – my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts – instead, be courageous!” John 14:27
I think I know what to do now! Stay close to Jesus, listen to him, receive his peace, without giving in to fear and to be courageous.