This article first appeared in Itchen Valley News October 2020
What resources do you have to get through the Winter?
We can all imagine how tough this Autumn and Winter are going to be. Finally we have all appreciated that this pandemic is not going away. Frankly the novelty has worn off. It has become very boring indeed! We were all hoping to be back by now on the path to normality, but then came the increasing numbers of infections and now The Rule of Six is putting paid to all sorts of important events in our lives, from toddlers groups to granny’s 90th birthday party. Brides and their mothers are biting their nails as to whether the restrictions will get tougher before their big days! All sorts of businesses are on a roller coaster, which is proving even more sickening with every twist and turn.
It all calls to mind the Greek myth of Tantalus who was positioned in Hades below a tree, but who could never quite grasp the succulent fruit that hung from its boughs. A return to normal life seems like that fruit, always in sight, but never quite achieved. The TV is providing little escape as the book of recorded series starts to run out and the news is just the same over and over again. So we go to bed concerned about the future and awake to more sickening worry over our muesli. This is all made much worse if we don’t have someone to talk to during this period. I feel so much for the widower in Alton who the Daily Mail reported last month had to go to the extreme of advertising for friends, because he could not bear the unrelenting silence of lockdown any more.
So what can we do about this? Well, first I want to say that whether you are stressed by the way that the world is at the moment or if you cannot bear the unrelenting silence of lockdown any more, we in the church are here for you. Please do drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to have a chat and I will call you back. We also have the Valley Visitors led by Lavinia Owen who will visit, call and generally see that you are OK. Also I hope that everyone in the parish is on a WhatsApp group for their neighbourhood so that they can ask for help from their immediate neighbours.
But I think we need to do something more to counter the relentlessness of bad news. It is said that ‘we become what we consume’ and that is not just a warning about eating too much fat and sugar. We need to feed our hearts, minds and souls with a diet which does not just consist of bad news and gloom. In the early centuries of the church, monks following on from the way of life adopted by St Benedict, developed a practice called Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina is a contemplative way of reading the Bible. It is a way of praying the scriptures that leads us deeper into God’s word. We slow down. We read a short passage more than once. We chew it over slowly and carefully. We savour it. Scripture begins to speak to us in a new way. It speaks to us personally, and aids that union we have with God through Christ who is himself the Living Word.
So how do we go about this? Well, as with everything these days, there is an app for our smartphones which avoids us having to find a Bible in a translation that we can understand and avoids us having to choose a passage. Lectio365 is a free app which provides a reading for every day.
The app enables us to pause. We can listen to a voice speaking out the passage and encouraging us to pray for about 10 minutes so we don’t even have to go to the trouble of reading! Please take the few minutes to feed your heart, mind and soul by listening to and praying Lectio365 every day and allow it to put your life and your concerns in a cosmic perspective.