A sample reflection from Soulful Steps ...
Lessons from the Lockdown
Good morning. I thought, with a week to go of our series, I'd like to reflect on a few things I've been trying to learn. So I've gathered seven lessons from lockdown. I offer them humbly, addressed to myself, really, and only to spark your own thoughts, as you go...
Groundhog Day is a work of art, as a film, and as an idea. By practising the small acts with love, over and over, we can begin to shift the nature of this one, repeating pattern of a day. "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts," wrote Thoreau. I love to think we could become artists of the ordinary.
“This is the day the Lord has made.” Psalm 118.24
You have to learn to love stillness. And silence. And solitude.
They’re not all the same, although we tend to lump them together, forget their names, and make them feel a bit unwelcome when they visit. If we could learn to love each of them a little more, as if they're a friend, we might yet see that they are.
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit … was led into the wilderness for forty days …” Luke 4.1-2
When we stop rushing from A to B, we start to get somewhere. (And we save on fuel.) It's like we've been on pilgrimage, instead of on the motorway. A journey by foot, mainly, to unexplored places of the heart, the community, the earth. Not all of them easy. And most have taken us closer to home than we might otherwise prefer.
"Teach me your ways, Lord. Show me your paths." Psalm 25.4
Beyond distraction, is presence. I'm lucky to have been living with family, and not everyone has. But I've learned that when everything gets cancelled - the kids clubs, the work trips, the exams! - and we've little else to do but be, presence can meet with presence. I've found it with my tree, too (though there's less to encumber this relationship). When finally we get to meet, beyond lockdown, I hope to offer you more of my presence, less of my schedule, or achievements. Same too, for God.
“After the fire came a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19.12
This is an opening. There are infinite views through just one window of our house. I saw swallows flying past. My wife saw an owl! I watched a continuous stream of cloud formations, which, I guess, have bubbled since the dawn of Creation. A 'window', this spring, feels like it's opened on eternity. I shall make it my practice to keep watch.
“A thousand years in your sight are like a day.” Psalm 90.4
Joy and grief can co-exist, and bring out the beauty in each other. This is big, isn't it? How can I be only joyful, when you grieve? How can I only grieve, when you are joyful? You people who've made room for both, within: thank you. You are a blessing. What a space you hold, with love. It means you've space for me.
“He was ... acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53.3
Listen to the moments of awakening. They're like the sower's seeds, in the parable. And this is about harvest, after all. We had a dash to the hospital the other day (all's well, now), and there's nothing like it, for focusing the heart and mind. Remember how you felt before, during, after.
And those moments we might otherwise have missed: as I watched the baby birds being fed, yesterday, I remembered I can trust in God to help me grow. And that this new life emerging in us, this spring, is fragile, and is beautiful, and has wings.
“Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God …” Romans 8.38.
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May we continue to learn, as we go.