I don’t know about you but these days seem way off balance to me. I find that I, too, can feel off balance. One moment I feel the way I usually feel, nothing out of place, and then a wave of realisation comes over me and I remember that EVERYTHING is out of place at the moment. This realisation is often accompanied by a wave of fear, anxiety or despair. We hear that one quarter of the world’s population is under some sort of lockdown to contain the Coronavirus sweeping the earth. Things have changed everywhere and, unlike some of the other disasters which have befallen different parts of the world, things have changed right inside my home. I don not have the luxury any more of feeling secure because terrible events are happening very far away. This was not a luxury I should have afforded myself because, now more than ever, we realise how interconnected the world is. The virus spreads precisely because of this- we give it to each other and it does not care about borders, ethnicity, historic quarrels or alliances, faith, colour, gender or political belief. We, my friends, are now one seeing that we are one world; one world under pressure.
When these waves wash over me I can literally feel dizzy. I can be like a surfer standing on his board in a viscous ocean whose waves have no predictability. I feel like I am about to fall off and drown in the fear. Do you know how that feels at present?
Then something else happens, and happens each day, to bring balance back to my life…
I look around and see my family in the house here with me. I see my children coming to terms with a life remote from their friends physically but close to them in social and other media. I give myself a moment to have a wry smile, remembering how we used to worry about online games and social media for our kids as if they would be the ruin of them. Turns out they were being skilled up to cope with this very situation. Who knew?!? I see that and some balance returns.
I see my wife, Nuala, go off to work in social care, making sure those who need her service get it the best they can. Her bravery and can do attitude inspire me and bring a bit of balance back.
I read reliable sources of information and amidst the truly awful statistics I read that 60% of people who contract Covid-19 will have either no symptoms or mild symptoms. 80% of people will suffer no to mild to moderate symptoms. This make sit even more important for people to stay in and stay away from each other over the coming weeks as we might have the infection, not realise it, and pass it on. However, holding on to my empathy for the 20% who will have severe symptoms, these statistics bring me some balance back.
I watch as companies all over the world innovate and invent new methods of helping sick people that ill be so essential during this crisis but ill also bring healing to people long after this is over. Watching this brings some balance back.
I take more regular and longer periods in prayer and reflection each day now- we have more time on our hands in this house- and some of that is done via Facebook live videos where I feel part of a community in the absence of my physical parish community. On that, I recommend checking out St John’s Parish, Falls Road or St Patrick’s Parish, Belfast or Fitzroy Presbyterian Church Belfast on Facebook. Community brings balance.
My personal prayer and reading of scripture has become ever more important in these times too. Spending time each day talking to God and listening in the silence for what God would have me hear brings balance. And when I do what I hear is that all I have written about is God too. God is in our families. God is in the people who work for others. God is in the reliable information that does not spread lies, but which acknowledges the suffering but speaks of hope. God is in the innovations that will help heal people. God is in community. And God is in a personal relationship with each of us, waiting to talk.
In these times of upset may you have the consolation of God’s perfect balance in your lives.