8: Refuge and strength #Lent2021

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change. (Psalm 46:1-2a)

I’m sick of COVID. Sick of the talk, sick of the updates, the notifications on my phone that remind me there is a ‘pandemic across the state of Victoria’. I’m sick of hearing about the numbers, the national comparisons and just the general interruption of it all.

I’m sick of hearing about how COVID has changed everything. How it is ‘unprecedented’, or how nothing is ‘normal’ any more … as if normal was ever really normal. I’m sick of the press conferences … and the North Face jacket!

I’m sick of the talk about vaccines, about anti vaxxers, Craig Kelly and I’m already sick of the word ‘efficacy’. All this talk, all this fear, all this ‘occupied space’ … I feel sick and tired of it all. I’m sick of COVID and the space it has occupied in my life.

This past year I’ve been able to stay at home. I’ve not travelled my ‘normal’ fortnightly routine to Melbourne since February 2020. I’ve spent the year working from home instead; 4-5 hours a day on Zoom, some days with a touch of Skype thrown in. I’m sick of Zoom!

You will however be pleased to hear that I’m not sick of the kids, who shared much of the past twelve months with me during lockdown and I’m not sick of Elvira, who works from home on Wednesdays and Fridays in the garden and connects with people locally. I’m also not sick of the space here in Cudgee, the air, the different calls of the birds and their seasonal variations. They remind me that nothing is constant.

Grounded at home, unable to travel for work or pleasure, my life has in many ways become smaller, localised and day-to-day. Stripped of the ‘scaffolding’ and assumptions of freedom that I previously felt were essential, I’ve been challenged to see God’s faithful, sustaining provision all around me. To observe God’s fidelity in the local, the everyday, and to acknowledge, as Wendell Berry’s poem so eloquently describes, that ‘all we need is here’:

Geese appear high over us,
Pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
In the ancient faith: what we need is here.
And we pray, not
for new earth or new heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

The passage that I’ve returned to throughout this time is Psalm 46. Reminding us that even in the midst of those times when the whole world is being turned upside down, God is with us. I’m not sick of that. Ω

Reflect: Through shutdown, COVID, and everything else, what have you had to give up? What has been good to let go of? How has God sustained you through this time?

What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of intense reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent.

#Lent2021. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent, Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Rachel Coyne on Unsplash.

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