So far, we are on target with the government roadmap for lifting restrictions. If all goes well, by the time you read this we will be able once again to meet for a chat as a group of up to 6 outdoors. And on April 12th we hope to be able to get our hair cut and go shopping once again. By May 17th the plan is to be able to meet each other indoors and to be able to eat out once again. I wonder what you are looking forward to the most? I’m guessing seeing friends and family comes top of the list, with the hairdressers being a priority, too.
For some people it will have been a very long time inside – in some cases over a year. If they have been shielding, and are now vaccinated, the world becomes a far less dangerous place. What a relief! And yet, I suspect, a significant number of people will find it difficult to come out again. If you are a shy and nervous person, you may have found the restrictions less stressful than the extroverts who crave the company of other people. You won’t have had to make an effort at those social interactions you have always found a bit difficult. But you may have got out of practice, and the thought of starting again may be daunting. Or there are the people who have got used to thinking of the world beyond their front door as a dangerous place. Everything that comes from the outside is disinfected or quarantined. Thanking the people who have helped with the shopping has been through an open window. It takes a while to turn off the fear and to regard the world as a safe place once again.
If this is you, then take it slowly. Don’t get frustrated with yourself, and don’t give up. Do things a little at a time, explain how you feel to friends and family, and if necessary, to your GP. They will understand – other people are in the same boat.
If it’s your friend or family member having difficulties, be understanding and patient. Help them to take baby steps on the road back to normality. Get them to walk to the end of the road with you to post a letter, to go into a shop, and then maybe work up to getting on a bus or going out for a coffee. And, of course, coming back to church!
One day in the not too distant future, perhaps, we will be singing, sitting next to each other and having coffee after the service. I hope and pray that we may all back together to do those ordinary things once again.
A prayer for the nervous
Heavenly Father who cares even for the smallest sparrow, help me to remember that I can always put my hand in yours. When things overwhelm me, hide me under your wings and tell me that I am safe with you.
Bless everyone who is uncomfortable with leaving their homes and beginning again to mix with others. Help us all to be sensitive to their needs and offer our love and support. Amen.