I have listened to the news this morning, read probably far to many articles, and feel anxiety rising within me, and it sits alongside fear, and anger. I think I want to deal with the anger first, I am angry 1000 people are dying everyday, cared for by people who do not have the specialist equipment to keep them safe, I am angry that we have a situation where many people are unable to either afford of access enough food for themselves and their families, and I am angry that without absolutely clear guidance many people are unsure how to keep themselves safe, and some just can’t because their living conditions make social distancing ridiculously difficult. I am also angry that there seems very little that I can do to help in anyway except for keeping my distance in what is a very comfortable home, and with that comes guilt and a sense of utter impotence.
Next the fear, fear, a very real fear of contracting this awful disease, and fear for my family who I am so far away from, fear for friends who have been experiencing symptoms. I suppose that it is okay to be fearful, because these are frightening times, I know I am not alone in that. Oh did I mention the sense of utter impotence?
Then there is the anxiety, which is like the fear but it is an immobilising force that prevents any of the usual fight of flight responses, which are pointless and useless in this anyway, where would I run to, and what would I fight? So anxiety is just there, all the time, sometimes really noticeable, like a general twitching, nagging presence, that leaves me feeling like I am shaking, and at others when I am busy it lessens but never completely disappears. I find that I am unable to read a book properly, it seems too much, and creativity comes in fits and starts, I forget to eat, or eat too much, and have set alarms to remind me when to go to bed! And again underlying all of this is a sense of utter impotence…
I am stuck in a limbo of being able to do nothing, or nothing that feels like anything, or anything useful or helpful. Like everyone else I am forced into a time of waiting, just waiting, waiting and hoping. Waiting is hard, and particularly hard because we are not really sure what we are waiting for, nor what safe might eventually look like, or how long we are being told to wait! In some senses I am reminded of Jesus instructions to the disciples to wait, watch and pray between ascension and Pentecost, but it is darker than that this waiting, it feels like Holy Saturday, drained of hope, filled with fear and anxiety…
As we move through the day towards Easter Sunday tomorrow, we do so clinging to a hope that we will see a resurrection of some sort, but not knowing what it will look like, we have ultimate hope of course, those of us who cling to the Christian hope, but perhaps it will help us to remember that the early disciples were overwhelmed with grief on Easter Day, and when they did encounter Jesus they were full of doubts, questions and fears, their lives were still at risk because the same authorities that crucified Jesus were watching them. So, maybe in our waiting, watching, and through our stumbling prayers maybe we can take comfort from their story, and remember that even after their long wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, their lives were still in danger, and they were still called to watching waiting and praying.
So I reflect that maybe this Easter Day, which will begin with us still observing social distancing, and with some of us self isolating, that perhaps our experience is more authentic for it, so we can bring with us our doubts and our fears, as we come to read. or hear the story afresh….
There were no Alleluias cried out on that first Easter Sunday, it began with darkness and confusion!