Some thoughts during at-risk extended isolation
Most of us have had to take a second look at ourselves and the world we live in during the health emergency. The lockdown has actually forced us to slow down and appreciate what we do have – health, family, a home with clean water and electricity – and how we have been reacting to the great changes in our lives. There are, after all, so many things that we don’t really need: that new piece of furniture, that exotic holiday and even that new hairstyle! Despite the frustration of staying at home, many people have been experimenting and discovered that they have new abilities and interests.
Yes, there have been some selfish people who rushed out to buy food and toilet rolls in bulk, leaving nothing for others in need. We should never forget that newspaper picture showing a young hospital worker who entered a supermarket after work just to get some food for tea but found the shelves stripped bare. She cried and we cried with her. Let’s hope that by now, as the full scale of the crisis emerges and we count the human cost, those people realise how thoughtless their actions were. How poor their spirits must have been. Yet this has been an opportunity for us all to learn something about ourselves and make some changes.
Wonderful acts of kindness and generosity
And it has been heart-warming to see how many more wonderful acts of kindness and generosity there have been, great and small, from Captain Tom to the stranger on our street. Our local small shop keeper refused to sell his supply of eggs to one customer because he knew that there were many elderly people in sheltered housing nearby who could only make it to his shop. A lady in my very long street put notes through everyone’s doors saying that she was willing to help out with shopping for food or medication, or just to post a letter. I personally have received help from my kind neighbours and my son has travelled each week just to help with my shopping as my husband and I are ‘at risk’ and elderly.
Whilst we quite rightly offer deep gratitude to the many on the ‘front line’ – NHS and Care workers, shop and pharmacy workers, delivery drivers and more – let’s include all the anonymous people who have given of themselves and offered help of any kind. Their souls have been enriched. We are learning that giving is a wonderful spiritual attribute, whether we are people of faith or of none, and it actually gives us happiness! The virus has brought us closer together in more ways than one: people have been friendlier to one another, waving and smiling and talking across the road as we walk at a ‘social distance’. We are not rushing here and there, now that we are forced to slow down and realise what is important – human caring.
The health of the Earth
Let’s not forget, either, that it’s not only the health of ourselves, our families and friends, or indeed of the very many suffering people throughout the world that matters now, the health of the Earth herself has been brought into sharper focus. Have you noticed how much bluer the sky has been, how still the air, how much clearer the birdsong? Even the ozone layer is healing. The virus itself seems to have been the result of our exploitation of nature and, without our interference, she has been recovering. Surely this teaches us that we cannot go back to the way things were, that we must have more respect for the planet and do less damage.
More than anything, the lockdown has helped us to re-evaluate everything that seemed so important just a few months ago. It’s not only the ‘things’ that we don’t need, it’s the whole superficial culture of celebrity, fashion and personal appearance (showing our perfect lives on social media!). Helping others or our world, and being kind, doesn’t rely on how we look. We don’t have to be beautiful, or have the smoothest skin and the perfect nose, or be able to fit into that favourite dress we wore many years ago. A simple smile or kind word doesn’t have to come from lips filled by or smothered with cosmetics. So much pain and effort to ‘stay young’! As so many have been forced to discover, we just need some regular exercise and a good basic diet.
Perhaps the greatest lockdown lesson has been that the journey and development of the spirit is as important – and necessary – as any other aspect of our lives. The spirit within each and every one of us shines through any challenge, helping us to grow and become the best that we can be. We all fail at times but nothing is ever gained without some struggle. During this crisis that has been awful for so many people, equally a greater spirit and humanity has shone through. Let’s not forget.
For Those Who Passed in 2020
Spirit calls away those we hold most dear
to go softly into night, without pain or fear.
And we all must surely go, with a willing heart,
to meet again sometime, no more to part.
We love and care for all who grieve,
as we trust the spirits home. So let’s believe,
smile at the wonders of the world and not be sad today,
for they will walk beside us along life’s stony way.
Sandy Phillips grew up amongst the bombed-out streets
(and spirits) of London during World War II.
Her wonderful life story is told in The Narrow Doorway.