Hope is what we crave!
In these emerging days of the Church’s New Year (Advent), our anticipation and excitement for this season of Hope may be in danger of being overshadowed by variants of concern, disagreements about masks for children in school, and still alarmingly high daily rates of infection and hospitalisation. It is not so much that we have lost hope but we are exhausted, weary beyond words at the emotional rollercoaster of a global pandemic. Hope leaks, and it requires courage and resilience to be refilled. What we have learned in these times of tribulation and significant challenge is that we cannot survive, or even thrive, without something that is bigger than us.
This has certainly been true of my own journey of late; I began 2021 with a sense of purpose and a vision to build on what we as a Church had begun in 2020. How quickly these plans came unstuck as Covid 19 crept silently into our house. While there have been times of deep frustration and often hidden symptoms, I am conscious of how fortunate I have been to have your prayers, patience and love on a daily basis. I have begun the series of tests that are part of the Long Covid Clinic and by Springtime I should have a clearer sense of the journey to recovery. Daily exercises in the pool has become a major tool to improving my general health; another has been the support and encouragement of so many of you, who have shown tremendous kindness and grace. Your cards, messages and words have sustained me and my family and carried us through times of doubt and sorrow.
I too am being reminded to hope in something, or should I say ‘Someone’, who is so much bigger than I am. While the list of questions I have to ask God when I meet him face to face grows ever longer, I do find myself settling into Hope that is beyond my present circumstances. God has been restoring that which had drained away over the past year and I now have fresh hope and renewed faith, that even in these difficult days God is at work.
I have used these months of recuperation to try new things. I have hugely enjoyed a three-week trial ‘Long Covid Choir’ that was jointly led by Grenville Hancox in the UK and Dara MacMahon here in Ireland. I find my more lucid moments filled with plot lines and character insights as I write new stories about familiar Bible characters. The kindness of friends and strangers inspires me and I see pathways unfolding before all of us that will help us not just get past Covid, but to rise above it so that our daily lives and decisions are no longer defined by a virus, but by our determination to do better, and be better.
We as a family thank you so much for your continued love and prayers. Can I especially thank David, Tracey, Rev. John and our leadership team of Vestry members, and all of you who do so much behind-the-scenes for one another. Therein too lies my hope. Finally can I wish you Peace, Courage, Hope, Strength and even Joy as we face uncertainty together, and as we celebrate together or from a distance the birth of Hope in a stable all those years ago.
To God be the Glory!