Day of Reflection Tuesday 23 March

A national Day of Reflection has been called this Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown. As we look forward to restrictions being relaxed, can I encourage you not to forge ahead to the new normal without reflecting and praying about what has happened? St Mary of Bethany Church will be open from 12–2pm on Tuesday for quiet reflection and prayer.

Everyone in our country has lost something to Covid. Over 126,000 people have died, equivalent to every man, woman and child in Woking and its surrounding villages; every death affects numerous other people. NHS workers have been overwhelmed, with many having to work outside their speciality, with all the frustrations that must have involved. They have seen far more patients die than they would normally, often after several weeks of desperate illness. They face huge backlogs in their work, with no end in sight.

People who died of Covid in hospital did not see an unmasked face again from the time they were admitted; no one was able to hold their hand or say goodbye properly. Bereaved families (of Covid and non-Covid fatalities) have been denied a normal funeral, the opportunity to hug loved ones or have a cup of tea with them. Care homes have been impacted enormously, with some losing a large proportion of their residents.

Thousands of people have lost jobs, been furloughed or seen their work reduced greatly. Many have had to take risks with their health to keep working. Others have worked from home, losing the day-to-day human contact of the workplace and facing the challenges of endless Zoom calls. Many face ongoing uncertainty and financial instability; a wander around the shops in Woking illustrates how many businesses have disappeared.

Children have missed months of school in person. Those in early years have missed key socialisation time; those in exam years face the uncertainty of how their qualifications will be regarded as they start their careers. Many more vulnerable children have received very little online learning and will struggle to catch up. Students’ lives have not been anywhere near what they had in mind.

All of us have been isolated from friends, family, activities we enjoy including church, places we love to go, holidays we were looking forward to. Even when we have been able to do normal things, we have had to work round many restrictions. Although life is slowly going back to normal, we face numerous ongoing questions and an uncertain future.

As you reflect on Tuesday, have a conversation with God about what you have lost. Don’t be tempted to belittle your losses; be honest about how you feel. Bring to God those who have suffered greatly in this time and will continue to do so. Intercede for those who will feel the consequences for many years in their mental health, and those helping them. Thank God for the good things that have happened: the relationships which have been fostered in our neighbourhoods, the appreciation we have for key workers, the outpouring of creativity and innovation in our technology, vaccine development and for many workers who have changed course fruitfully. Allow God into your uncertainty and concerns about the future. Let the Holy Spirit minister to you and keep track of any words or pictures you receive – do share them if that’s appropriate.

Our society has not shared an experience like this since World War Two; we have never been through a worldwide pandemic which has been so universal. Our children will always be able to ask people what their experience of Covid was; we must pray that this time will build a resilient, adaptable and positive generation. This Day of Reflection is an opportunity begin learning the lessons from what has happened, good and bad. If we are going to build back better, we must dig deep to understand just what has happened and how it has affected us. We can’t do this on one day, but this Tuesday will be a good start.

Mark Wallace, 20/03/2021