“Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you From seasons such as these? ” (King Lear Act 3 Scene 4.)
When these words were first spoken, The nation was being rocked by bubonic plague with London losing probably a fifth of its population. In our comfort and security we thought those days were past but overnight we discovered that ultimately our lives are as fragile as ever they were.
Overnight we’re all those poor naked wretches, with houseless heads and unfed sides. We may not have known it before but we certainly do now.
All of us have to one degree or another been caught up in this pitiless storm. In my long life there’s never been anything like this. So many of us anxious, frightened and insecure, hardly knowing which way to turn, who to trust. A year and a half ago everything was normal, Then everything changed. Will things ever be normal again?
In such a storm who indeed can defend us? in our desperation we become seekers.
An astonishing statistic from a recent C of E survey revealed that a quarter of those surveyed had attended online church services. Half of the 18 – 35 year olds in London had done this in the previous 6 weeks. A significant number were planning to carry on in the future. Tremendous opportunities and challenges here for church leaders.
Meanwhile what about us, emerging from lockdown, with a mixture of hope and trepidation. This is what he says to you and me:
“Come, dear heart. Lean on me and let us walk this path together.” Let these words by Juliet Marillier in Son of the Shadows resonate into your heart and mind.
Always remember that the love God has for each one of us is unique, made to measure. You are not alone; His tenderness towards you is infinite. Don’t allow the strident tones of the daily news to sweep you off your feet into confusion and anxiety. One thing you can do though: begin to take steps to travel more lightly. Be aware of your capacity; decide what’s essential for the journey and leave the rest behind. This may take some courage and grit, but you can do it.
A prayer from John Birch
Gracious God, jog my memory when, weighed down with life and struggling through the day,I assume it’s up to me to sort things out. Then I wonder why, when sinking slowly, I forget the obvious, which is of course to bring these things to you, that together we might face and overcome, that which, right now, overwhelms me.