Monthly letter

It has certainly been a long time of social isolation, and although there have been some relaxations in the lock-down, it could well be some time before we move on completely.  As things ease a little it is perhaps a good time to think about what we have learned from the situation we have found ourselves in, some of us in significant isolation, and for families perhaps some real quality time they have shared together, albeit forced.  How will we emerge?  Will this time have changed our outlook on life?  Will we return to what we were before it all began, or have we found a different approach to life?

In thinking about some of these questions, I was reminded of an American Indian folk story about a village where there was much disharmony.  There were major arguments and even in the simplest situations there was much bickering and bad feeling. The village chief was at his wits end to know what to do until, out of the blue, a stranger arrived amongst them.  He just simply arrived in the village and started enquiring where the Messiah was to be found, for he had been assured that it was in this village that he would be found.

People’ attitudes changed immediately as they wondered who the Messiah might be.  Just in case, people started being nice to each other!  Soon the bickering and bad feeling disappeared altogether and the village soon became a wonderful place to be.  The people sought out the stranger to thank him for all that he had done to remedy their dreadful situation, but could not find him. The stranger had gone.  He never returned to the village again, he didn’t need to because the people had themselves  found out what was really important.  From that moment on they lived by those new values of life, and never let outside pressures, joys or disasters get in the way.

In a strange sort of way this folk story speaks in some way about the situation we have been in, but in reverse.  Here in the village there has been an upsurge of community, of caring for each other and of helping each other.  It has been wonderful to see the local institutions and people supporting each other. But what will happen when the lock-down is over?  Will we simply return to the pressurised life we lived prior to pre-virus life?

So many questions, but for the majority of people this lock-down has not been totally negative.  There are things we have found positive within it.  Will we hold onto those when life returns to normal, or will the pressures of living in a hectic and demanding world soon obliterate them from our minds as we return to the world as it was?  If we do there is much that we will lose, or at least failed to learn.  Remember we learn as much from difficult experiences just as much as we do from easy ones.

David Shaw