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Thought for the Day, 22.5.21

This week, I saw two women running toward each other, right in front of me, and falling into a heart-felt and clearly long-awaited hug. It brought me great joy!


But as restrictions ease, and we’re seeing people heading off on holiday and cracking on with life, I’ve had to check myself, too, from a fear of missing out or getting left behind. Both my wife and I have had long Covid for a year, and for now it’s going nowhere fast … just like the two of us.


Some days are better than others - but the fatigue, aches, breathlessness, brain fog, takes its toll. It’s like trying to drive with the handbrake on, which is OK, in a way, when everyone’s held up by restrictions - but now, with the road re-opening, where does it leave the million or so people like us with long Covid?


I’m trying to learn through it, and I have new respect for the many people who were already left behind - those we miss when we’re blurring past in hot pursuit of life: the chronic fatigue sufferers who feel invisible (or doubted); anyone who’s had the brakes slammed on. It’s Pentecost tomorrow, when Christians welcome afresh the Holy Spirit, which came after Jesus’ ascension.


So I’m reminded, too, that a ‘Spirited’ life need not be measured by achievement or ‘going places’ - but by fruitfulness, wherever we are. The Bible lists some delicious fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Cultivated inwardly, expressed outwardly. And all things we can lose sight of, ironically, if life is only about getting ahead - as we’ve seen from recent news stories.


And with good fruit, the goodness passes on. In spring, I’d usually, if I was well, be leading spiritual walking retreats. One year, a lady called Jodie came along. She was successful, but a degenerative illness now meant she’d could never return to the fast lane. I pushed her in a wheelchair, and - far from being regretful - she effused joy and presence.


We were about to do a mindful walking exercise, for which I apologised. “Don’t be silly,” she said, “I’m loving every blade of grass … Push me!” And really, it was as though she was pushing me.


And on the days I can’t walk round the block now without having to stop for a little rest, I think of her, and try to give thanks for a different taste of where I am, and of what life, for any of us, might really be about.

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