Cogitation 12 Saturday 21 March 2020 Last week, this week, next week, people around the world are focused on combating the coronavirus-caused illness, Covid-19. It’s an unsettling time, disruptive, risk to life and livelihood. During the week UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, announced that “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop unnecessary travel.” We were able to get around, shop for food, pick up newspapers, mostly on foot. With all the measures needed to combat the coronavirus, one is hard-pressed to see how one week fits, if not smoothly, then wobbly but surely into the next.
We’re grateful that keeping social distance, washing hands, seeing friends and neighbors looking out for one another, and having places of worship open for private prayer are measures being taken to promote physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being.
Significantly, medical professionals, scientists, emergency responders, governments, religious bodies and populations at large are piecing together ideas and facts to come up with a sensible understanding and wide-ranging response to the coronavirus crisis.
We see a world hard at work to mesh week with week, just as a woodworker fits a tongued board to a grooved one. Right now, wobbly but surely, one week is being fitted faithfully into the next.
In a time fraught with fear, unprecedented disruption, illness and death caused by this virulent new virus, people are working overtime to find new ways to fit the tongue of recent weeks into the groove of this and coming weeks. There’s continuity in joined efforts. Joined hope. Joined promise. Joined care in the face of vast need. It’s a world joined up, of sorts, in most heartening and helpful ways. Joinery, if you will.
Alexander McCall Smith wrote a poem for these troubled times, In a time of distance. I excerpt a few sentences from the poem, starting with the concluding lines: “A lot of us–not all perhaps–but most, / Will be slightly different people, / And our world though diminished, / Will be much bigger, its beauty revealed afresh.”
Another selection from In a time of distance:
The words brother and sister, powerful still,
Are brought out, dusted down,
Found to be still capable of expressing
What we feel for others, that precise concern;
Joined together in adversity.
Bits of good humour grace the day, such as this response to people who are panic buying, even though deliveries from suppliers to supermarkets and other shops are assured. A Letters writer in The Guardian (18 March) quipped, “There were only two copies of the Guardian left at my newsagent on Monday, so I bought them both in case there’s a shortage later this week.”
A tongued and grooved week
The photos show activities we were still able to do before more restrictive measures came into effect at the weekend.
The Church of England has called for a day of prayer and action on Mothering Sunday (22 March) even though regular worship services and related gatherings are canceled for the present. It’s a time to “remember those who are sick or anxious and all involved in our Health Services.”
People are encouraged to place a lighted candle in their window at 7 pm Sunday “as a sign of solidarity and hope in the light of Christ that can never be extinguished.”
Further, “This is a defining moment for the Church of England. Are we truly a church for all, or just the church for ourselves? We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.”
How the week ahead will affect us is a day to day matter. Can we return home earlier than planned? In that we’re in the same boat with many others. We’re well. Provisioned. Not overly anxious. We’re able to walk on numerous paths, maybe even fly as the winds blow in sometimes at 50 mph from the sea. We’ll light a candle in our window Sunday evening at 7 pm.