As the UK finds itself returning to stringent restrictions week-by-week, we must ask ourselves how much we truly recognise what we in the Island are blessed enough to experience.
No social distancing, no mask-wearing (unless by personal choice in both circumstances), no sanitiser by every shop doorway, no limitations on public gatherings (a Friday night quiz with 50 people is a fine thing …), schools running as if it were 2019, pubs and restaurants freely available through normal working hours: even New Zealand wasn’t in this position until recently.
We in the Island have enjoyed a completely unknown experience compared with almost every country around the world. Barely any have completely escaped Covid and what trauma we have experienced has not been that of other nations.
Which is why this is precisely the time we should be extending and showing gratitude in every possible way for the blessings we have received as a community. As families and individuals some of us may not feel like that, having experienced Covid and, in some tragic cases, seen loved ones leave us. Nothing can make grief easier, regardless of the circumstance, and we must support one another in that.
As a society, however, we have escaped – so far – what could have ravaged us. And for that, we must be grateful. We must treasure every moment we have to enjoy with our friends and families, recognising it is a moment others may not have and moments we may not get back.
But that, surely, is what we should do every day. Not simply because there is any pandemic. We must daily appreciate the loving value of life and seize its every breath, not allowing ourselves to be distracted by the pointless comforts of a modern age but waking in a morning and seeing what potential it has for us to love and live.
We must silently look around us at the beauty of what we receive in nature, in our homes, in our friendships and relationships and lift those things to God. We must stand against those things which try and prevent us living authentic lives as children of God: be it in the workplace, domestically, in our pastimes, in our friendship groups, our churches or anywhere; fighting abuse and freeing ourselves and others to live as God wants us to live – with freedom, security, understanding and God’s blessing.
Life as we know it has changed irrevocably since this time last year but that means we must fight even stronger for those things which mean life: upholding justice, mercy and walking in love – treating our neighbours as we would wish to be treated. While at the same time thanking God for all those things we may have spent a lifetime forgetting we had or have taken for granted: children, parents, grandchildren and grandparents, distant relatives, long-lost schoolfriends, pets, homes, work, income, a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes, freedom to travel, freedom to choose, freedom to be who we can be.
While the UK and others find themselves in positions of turmoil we do not experience and cannot understand, now is very much the time to put aside any frustrations and dissatisfactions with our lives and instead turn to God, recognising the overwhelming blessings we DO have, and reaching out to make sure we never let them go, and allow those blessings to be lived in all their fullness.