Updated 25th May 2021
Pastoral Letter from the Revd Jan
Is that a presumptuous greeting? You may never have met me. Or you may know me well and ponder how I can lump you in with lots of others when writing this letter. And yet, whatever our relationship, I am a link in a chain which offers a bond of connection between us.
At the start of the first Pandemic Lockdown last March, we were all hailed with the phrases - “Pick up the phone” “Do not be isolated” “Ask for what you need”, whilst many links in many chains were mobilised to make connections, to offer help and to respond to need. The normal connections which had daily sustained us were temporarily cut off and we were required to, often tentatively, put out new feelers. We suffered many losses and we had to grow in new ways. Has the past year felt like one of suppressed growth or new growth for you? And have you come across the idea that ‘you don’t grow old, but get older by not growing’?
The now double-vaccinated over 60s amongst us have weathered a large pruning and are hopefully now growing new shoots. But we have seen rebellion amongst the young with resentment against imposed limited freedoms; against their energies being constrained and their wings being clipped.
Meanwhile across all demographics we know that the mental health of our nation has suffered a disaster. A severely disturbed perpetrator of an attempted murder in a TV Drama last week asked her forensic psychiatrist: “Is everyone else on the High Street as cracked and broken as me, but they just manage to hide it better?” And I wondered, in our strange global COVID disaster, which we are so relieved and hopeful to see receding, have we learned to keep growing in new ways or internally died for lack of the normal ‘distractions’ which can fill our previously absorbed empty brokenness?
If we have learned one thing this past 15 months, it has surely been that we need to be a friend to whomever we can and to recognise how much we need a spread of friendships. I am convinced that more of these and less of the distractions would lead to improved mental health.
As you read this, the Christian Church will be celebrating Pentecost when Jesus’ disciples accepted the loss of his physical presence amongst them and yet found a transforming energy to go forth and connect with a new world in a new way. Their task? To communicate the joy of living with the love of Jesus embedded in their hearts, releasing them from all fear. This kind of friend could never be taken away. And they were mobilised to spread this ‘release from fear’ through an ever-increasing chain of connections.
We have all suffered levels of Isolation but there has been much deep Loneliness too. Yet isn’t there is a difference between Isolation and Loneliness? Hermits live alone but are not lonely, essentially because they are connected to their Creator God. People of prayer can be alone in silence but hope to know a sense of connection with all things.
As we start to re-socialise again, maybe we will find that we are not the same people we were 15 months ago. So, as we explore a new self, let us remind ourselves each day that each of us is a link in a chain: a bond of connection and that….
“What you are is God’s gift to you and what you become is your gift to God”. Because… “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday and yet all is well”.
Thank you for the bond of connection between us and “Thank You God that I am a link in a chain by just writing this letter”.
I wish you a Joyful Pentecost.