So. How are you doing, in the midst of all this?
Are you self-isolating? Are you okay, or not really?
Please make this a place you can come and share how things are going.
In our little tribe, we have an interesting (probably fairly typical) mixture of the dangerous and the vulnerable!
My mother is 92 and housebound, very frail, dependent on a carer coming in three times a day. Her carer is superb, meticulous about hygiene, and we have three phone numbers on standby in case anything goes wrong with that. Her situation is vulnerable indeed, but in this particular situation she's probably safer than she would be in a nursing home. We continue to visit and get her groceries as normal (except the shelves are a bit denuded in the food shops!)
We have several family members with respiratory red flags — two people in our household have a medical history that includes pneumonia and a third has had other respiratory challenges. Buzzfloyd (my daughter) and her daughter live just along the road from us, and both have asthma. She also has a son and a husband, and her husband is one of our dangerous people, because he has to go to work in a university in a big town on public transport every day. Disease vector writ large! Our other dangerous person is my firstborn, who also works in the university in the city and commutes daily by train. She lives in her own apartment, and is very cautious and sensible, so would self-isolate at the first sign of illness. My youngest daughter is coming back to roost, so we are all together and can look after each other as and when needed. Buzzfloyd's mother-in-law has fragile health and is wisely self-isolating in her little apartment. My own life is so simple, small and reclusive that I need to make very few changes to fulfil the criteria of caution. We are all of us grateful for the internet!
Our UK entry into virus territory has been somewhat muddly, as I'm sure you've read, but we are beginning to socially distance, gradually shutting down gatherings and schools etc. There seems to be division of opinion, and both regional and local inconsistency. People are doing their best — and what that is varies according to the information they have and how they construe it.
It feels bit like walking through a dream to me, this time — waiting to see who will (and will not) be alive this time next year!
A favourite quotation for me, by someone called Pam Brown, is: "For every person who has ever lived there has come, at last, a spring he will never see. Glory then in the springs that are yours."
I love that, and this glorious spring day full of sunlight and birdsong, the blossom coming out on the trees, I bear it in mind.
It seems to me that the uncertainty of these days, and where each of us will be this time next year, what impact it will all have had, holds out to us an opportunity to in every way set our house in order. This, as we are self-isolating or socially distancing or quarantining, is a time to sit quietly and make peace within our hearts, to lay aside any clinging grudges or resentment, to enter into the gladness of Jesus and embrace the joy of our salvation. It's a time to consider others — to ensure that our affairs are in order, our homes clean and tidy, our possessions pared down. Because here we have no abiding city and we never know when it will be our time to be called home, or when we shall be required to respond to someone else who needs our help.
This is a time for quietness, for reflection and prayer, a worldwide retreat. What a wonderful opportunity.
Please know that in these days I am praying for you — by name if I know your name, and just holding you in the light of God who surely does know your name if I do not.
I pray that the purposes of God will be fulfilled in your life, that you may choose wisely and walk peacefully, that you may be kind and brave and cheerful.
Bear in mind the words of Julian of Norwich, that "all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well." I am one hundred per cent sure that is true, whatever each passing day may individually hold.
God bless you today, dear friend. Put your hand in his. Feel it. Walk with him. There is sadness sometimes, but he is with you.