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Silver Lining (August 2020)

Dear Friends

Look for those silver linings.

In these lockdown days we may not be moved to write a novel or learn a musical instrument, but there are, still, many ways of finding benefits from the pandemic catastrophe.

For instance, what a relief not to be waiting for public transport, sitting in an airport lounge, standing in an over-crowded train, fuming in a traffic jam. How many of us need a holiday after a holiday? For those working from home getting more done in less time must be a plus. We’re realising that our true needs are quite simple and we can function perfectly well even with the bare minimum. There are supposed to be three important aspects that help humans to achieve wellbeing: engagement, meaning, and pleasure. A slower pace brings an opportunity for discovery and the realisation that, often, we don’t have to go very far to see the wonders of the world.

There’s a lot to love on the doorstep and we have been given the time to pay attention and develop a fresh perspective. Noticing the small things, watching flowers bloom, observing wildlife, listening to birdsong, enjoying the dawn, sunset, clouds, the changing weather and just BEING without the need to rush around. Watching robins feed their chicks or sea gulls soaring in the sky can be every bit as mesmerising as what’s going on in South Africa's Kruger National Park. Connecting to the natural world should help us want to protect it giving a positive legacy that will last beyond lockdown.

Growing food at home brings a whole new meaning to the term field to fork. It’s amazing how many Good Life fantasies are flourishing, whether it’s growing herbs on a windowsill or tomatoes in our flower beds we’re discovering it’s easier than we realised to grow some of our food.  More and more of us are embracing the kind of waste-free cooking. In these days of supermarket queues, it makes sense to use up what we have and to try to make a dent in the 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is wasted globally each year.

Thanks to a reduction in airborne pollution, many of the world’s most famous destinations are visible for the first time in years – residents in northern India report being able to see the Himalayas more clearly than they have for three decades. We may not be able to visit these places so SOFARI is the new norm! If culture is the root of humanity, how wonderful to be able to get so much of it without leaving the living room. Thank heavens for all the television has to offer.

Our disciplines of hygiene have improved vastly. All this hand washing! Not being able to get our hands on our usual cleaning products is a huge opportunity to detoxify our homes and avoid sending a vast array of toxins into the water supply.  Soap, vinegar and soda are really all we need.

Ironically, being isolated from the world is also allowing us to re-open hitherto dormant relationships. We’re searching for old friends on social media and reconnecting with them. Be it our relatives, friends, colleagues or social acquaintances, we’re all in the same boat right now. We’ve all realised that the situation calls for ‘social distancing’, not ‘emotional distancing’. We’re taking the time to actually talk to people. Have you noticed that people are smiling at each other, neighbours and complete strangers are volunteering to shop and run errands. We now more than ever appreciate the NHS, the cleaners, refuse collectors and carers. They’re doing the jobs that keep us healthy and safe.

Above all we are now more aware that our lives are not lived in isolation, we are every bit part of nature as every bird or bee.  What we do as humans affects the natural world. What we do as individuals affects others near and far. What we do as a country affects those abroad.  Maybe we are beginning to realise that we are a global people. We are all God’s children and we inhabit a wonderful world. Let’s hope lessons learnt in this time will be remembered in the New Norm.

In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength that only God could give.  In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope.  I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship. Behind the harsh appearances of the world there is a benign power. Martin Luther King

Jean Isaacs