2 weekends ago I stepped into Easter Ross’s ‘Land that time forgot’ for a week’s recovery & renewal. Some decisions followed us, like having to close Connexions, but returning to my desk today, is like stepping into a War Zone: News & Social Media awash with handwashing, self-isolation, social distancing, & other vital rules to protect us & fight this pandemic. Politicians remarkably ‘uniting’ to enforce policies & muster ‘goodwill’ to fight this common enemy that threatens our loved ones, livelihoods, lifestyles, & very lives. Frontline NHS workers under terrible pressure to cope with unbelievable pressure. The best & worst in human nature exemplified in sacrificial service & selfish panic buying. Unprecedented, even in war time, schools are closed & churches forced to close doors, stream services, phone parishioners & play catchup with social media & other modern means of communication & virtual community. One twitter says, “Once this is all over, the question on people’s minds won’t be ‘How polished was your service stream or media persona, rather ‘How were you a good neighbour to me?” And that’s where we, at Fullarton ConneXions are, as we rally with North Ayrshire Council, Fullarton Hub, other churches & positive outlets to care for the most vulnerable in our community.

 

“Love God with your all & Love your neighbour as you love yourself” are Christ’s top two commands. If you don’t yet have trust in the God of a positive Bigger Picture, can I encourage you to start speaking to this God, who loves you and wants the best for you, and to love & care for yourself as you help others. As flight attendants tell us, make sure you have your own air mask in place before trying to help with anyone else’s.

 

Finding a new routine in the midst of chaos is our present challenge. Yes, there may be stages of grief to journey through like Denial, Anger, Bargaining & Depression on the road to Acceptance and Moving On. But survival & ultimate thriving need positive new routines to calm & grow confidence that we will get through this ‘together’. Dad’s Army’s Clive Dunn highlights the importance of humour “DON’T PANIC CAPTAIN MANNERING!” Indeed, much media messaging is simply passing on nervous energy & fear. Winston Churchill’s much quoted advice is sound, “If you’re going through hell, keep going!”

 

My wife speaks of a story from her psychiatric nurse training: two lifeboats full of survivors are catapulted into an unknown future as their boat sinks behind them. Days later they are both found, one with everyone still living, the other with only two survivors. The difference is that the boat full of survivors has established rigorous daily routines, while the other boat drifted in chaotic hopelessness. Can I encourage you, ideally with God’s help, to learn a NEW NORM, daily disciplines designed to steer you through these tempestuous seas. And, if able, to share your sanity saving, survival stories with each other as an encouragement?

One top tip to include in your regular routine is to make time for GRATITUDE! Focus on the relationships & good things you ‘do have’ as well as LAMENT and feel sorrow for the things you don’t have or have had to let go of. Leading our nation through WW2 Winston Churchill also said, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” GRATITUDE or GRRRRRRRATITUDE the choice of attitude is yours & mine.