PCN Newsletter 9th April 2020
The third of the weekly newsletters looks at Easter.
Easter Day and Easter week approaches and I look out of my study window across the road to the church opposite, with its doors firmly shut. The priest will soon be putting up the usual reminder to passers-by that this is the season of hope and new life, an empty wooden cross will be draped with a white cloth. Meanwhile folk walk up
the road, some wearing protective masks, families on the way to the park, children with only mum or dad to play with. No Easter outing for them. The buses are empty of passengers, pedestrians carefully avoid each other. It certainly doesn’t feel like the season of resurrection.
But then I go into the living room, overlooking the garden. How fortunate we are to have a large outdoor space, we would love to say to others come and enjoy it, but we cannot….. As I look out, I see the plum and damson trees are flowering, the coal tits devour the nuts, the pigeons cavort, the squirrels attempt to steal the bird food and all is alive and beautiful!
Again I turn to poetry and in Janet Morley’s splendid compilation here is Christina Rosetti’s poem about being at home in the love of God, evoking imagery from the natural world, referencing rainbows (like the ones which children have drawn during this current pandemic) and thick-set fruit trees. Enjoy the poem, whatever your beliefs or not in God. Enjoy the love to be shared with others whether they be in your home or at a distance, try to see each day as a ‘birth-day’, being born again as we experience the loveliness of Spring, the promise of new life, of warmer days to come and of course the hopeful end of this dreadful disease. And of course we remember how those in hospital are held in the love of all who serve their needs.
However you may be spending Easter, I wish you health and hope.
The Birthday by Christina Rosetti
My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.
Adrian Alker, Chair, PCN Britain
pdf now, hard copy later
Our next edition of Progressive Voices is to be compiled on 1st May and was then to be posted to you in June, but unfortunately our printer is in shutdown. We intend to go ahead and circulate a pdf version to all members on email and post an in-house paper copy to the folk without email. At a later date we will review how best to get properly printed copies out to those who want them.
So if group convenors could please supply updates to the point that you stopped meeting, reviewers catch up with your reading, and an invitation to all to reflect on the situation we all find ourselves in or something completely different to take our minds of it! Thank you.
(The deadline is 1st May, and the standard guide for articles is: 300-400, 600-700 or 1500-1600 words (1/2, 1 or 2 page(s); picture of yourself and a brief bio (10-15 words), and another copyright free image to illustrate if possible.)
David Coaker, Editor of Progressive Voices: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have had several suggestions of poems that we can use and a couple of people have sent poems that they have written. There isn’t space here for all of them so I have added a page to the website where poems can be found. We start with a contribution from PCN member Edward Conder.
I work as a counsellor/psychotherapist. I have remained busy with little drop off so far in work. I now work exclusively at home seeing people mostly on Skype or conducting sessions over the phone. On top of the usual presentations of trauma, anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, addiction… comes people’s response to the Covid-19 virus situation.
For many this is added difficulty on top of difficult changes they are already having to deal with. I had one client who was a pregnant woman. She already had anxiety about her health that was difficult to manage. Suddenly, her resources were stripped away when she had to stay at home to look after a young child she already had whilst being in a vulnerable group. She had to work full-time at home whilst doing this and could no longer have the support of a child minder or family to come to her home. Her husband could only offer limited support. Other clients are trying to manage this the best way they can facing the same difficulties that most of us have, having to stay at home to work and trying to manage this change, often trying to look after children at the same time, as well as trying manage the strain in the relationship with their partner.
For those whose psychological resources are few the situation puts added pressure on their ability to cope. For some who already led isolated lives it has not meant much of a change. For others, they have seen positive benefits from the situation. For some who have had to spend more time with their partners they’ve seen their relationship strengthen as a result. For others who find themselves spending more time by themselves they have seen the opportunity to get to know themselves better and become more accepting of who they are. Part of my work involves working on an advice line that includes providing support to those who work in the hospitality industry. The lock-down has had a devastating effect on that sector. Businesses have closed permanently or temporarily. Employees, whose wages may have already been low, have to deal with a sudden loss of income and learn to negotiate the benefit system or understand what it means to be on Furlough.
When my mood is particularly low I can feel like I’m living in a horror movie. The world is a dangerous place where when I step outside there is a virus that can kill me. I cannot go near anybody in case they have this virus. My contact with people has to be indirect. I see all the characters that you would expect in a horror movie: there are those who panic in the face of the danger, there are the heroes working tirelessly to save us at personal risk, and there are the politicians trying to reassure us that everything is ok. Recently I have often seen on Facebook or Twitter the clip from Jaws the movie of the mayor trying to reassure people that it’s safe to go into the water. There are also those who completely ignore the danger and carry on as if it has nothing to do with them. In some ways very little has changed. This situation has brought home that the world is indeed an unpredictable place. We live our lives in the illusion of control when in fact nothing is certain. We live by faith far more than we realise.
There are also other characters that you don’t often find in horror movies. The ones who can deal with the situation with good humour and the ones who can find creative solutions in a difficult place. They may sing from balconies, do exercise routines on Youtube, create online courses for activities that didn’t exist before, as well as other things such as neighbourhood groups that have sprung up to look out for the vulnerable. They find a way to be present and create something new. It’s a situation that brings out the best and the worst in us.
I am writing this in Easter Week. According to the Gospel accounts Jesus asked his disciples to keep vigil while he waited to be arrested. They failed in this. Perhaps our task at the moment is to stay with our faith, remain at home, keep watch and pray. At the same time we can notice how we fail to do this: How we panic, avoid our fears, gloss over them. We may be coming face to face with death but we may witness beyond that the resurrection of a new society.
Tony Sanchez, PCN Trustee
I am sure, like me, members are greatly enjoying the newsletters from PCN. I greatly enjoyed Mo Lawson-Wills reflections on her beer lake dilemma. Of course I did – after all I am her mother!! Actually I enjoyed all the contributions, all quite different and offering a variety of thoughts. Thanks to Sarah for her reflections about those people who dedicate themselves to the good of others because they have a sense of calling, and those who have no sense of calling but because they have to as part of their employment, and those who volunteer because they are good and selfless people. This, I think, provides a great basis for group discussion – either real when these troubled times are over, or electronically now.
Now, you will want to know, I am sure, as to how Mo and her husband are coping with their grave problem of beer disposal. Have we, as her parents, generously and selflessly offered to help them out? Unfortunately we live in North Cornwall while Mo lives down in the far west of the county 35 miles away. Could an urgent beer delivery, bearing in mind there is only so much even we can drink in a couple of days, be considered an essential journey? My husband thought yes, but alas, this was merely wishful thinking on his part. They have had lots of helpful suggestions - a recipe for beer bread, beer batter, some boffin suggested there must be a way to adapt it for powering an engine, and is there a way it could be made into handwash?
The big thing for me in all of this is the importance of keeping in touch with friends and family. In normal times when we are all busy the days and weeks can just speed by as we get caught up in our busyness. Of course we know our grown up children love and care about us as we do them, but now we are all making a point of texting and phoning regularly to make sure we are all ok. It’s reassuring for us to know there is somebody we can call on if we need to, and in the same way we can be the people others can call on. We have all witnessed amazing acts of kindness and generosity over the past few weeks both on the national news bulletins and also locally. This to me is what the message of Easter and Resurrection is all about. Jesus has his resurrection in people’s hearts with every kind and generous act – not because they are Christians – but because they are human.
This year Easter celebrations will be very different but none the less just as real. When I was training for the ordained ministry many years ago we were posed with the question, ‘Is a eucharist using beer and crisps valid?’ Methinks this could be a question to pose to Revd Mo Lawson-Wills!!!!
Gwen Wills, PCN member, Supernumerary Methodist Minister and mother
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Suggested by Fred Pink, PCN member and Convenor of the Woking Group