Here’s a puzzle. We are more stationary at the moment than we’ve probably ever been: our time is corralled within our home’s boundaries. If we are permitted out, a trip to the supermarket is now an adventure to the horizon of the known world. Cross-country travel is as what inter-planetary travel once seemed.
Yet we are also on an extraordinary journey together. Like Columbus and his friends, we have bade farewell to familiar shores. The land of assumed good health (more or less), of ample supply of our favourite nibbles, of trips to the beach, is not our land at the moment. We travel through rougher country now. Like a young person devoid of a smart-phone signal, we lack our usual outlets for entertainment, even of industry. No longer strolling the easy smooth roads, our steps simply to make it through the day are harder work. And the lurking dark hills prod us that we walk through ‘the valley of the shadow of death’.
Unlike Columbus, we did not choose this journey. We are reluctant travellers. Yet we have all become adventurers. We’re learning how to live in new ways: to travel as a community together, as our villagers support each other in beautiful new ways and local initiatives bubble up. We are learning to travel lighter. ‘I could never manage without that,’ morphs into, ‘Well, maybe I can’ (with exceptions!). The pain of the journey brought by those dark hills is no less. Yet new appreciation swells for the medical carers who travel alongside.
Others have trod similar roads before us. Spiritual visionary Julian of Norwich lived through the Black Death. The disease killed as much as a third of the population of her city. Yet she wrote these words for which she is most famous – perhaps even while she was in quarantine – words sensed from God:
“I may make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well; and thou shalt see thyself that all manner of things shall be well.”
We can’t yet see how or when things shall be well. Nor, maybe, should be strive too hard to try. I suspect that viewing this extraordinary time more as a journey, than as enforced immobility, will help us travel better. And, strangely, may help us arrive the other side in better shape too.
Rev David Carrington
Team Vicar of Escot, Feniton and Payhembury
The Rectory, Station Road, Feniton 01404 850905