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‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1
The seasons come and go with a reassuring predictability, even if they are beginning to be a bit topsy turvy these days…snow just after Easter?! What a joy to see lambs, hear skylarks, find the first wild primroses after the long, bleak winter.
The past year has been, for the world, a different kind of season, a season of pandemic. Dare we hope that a new springtime is coming at last in that context, as we emerge from lockdown just as the dormant plants are emerging from hibernation and the migrating birds return from Africa? Ours is a fragile springtime, for we know that coronavirus is here to stay, and we must do our bit to remain on guard against it.
‘There is a time for every purpose under heaven’. What possible good purpose could the pandemic have, we may well ask. Better phrased perhaps as ‘What good purpose can we, with God’s help, find in all of this?’.
I can think of a few positives: we have discovered new ways to communicate, like Zoom, and there is still the telephone for those of us not good with technology. Many have discovered a love and reverence for nature and for growing things, even if only in pots and on windowsills. Some of us have taken up a new or long-neglected hobby, learned a new skill, or completed a project which had been on the back burner for far too long.
The whole world feels smaller, united against this common enemy, and we feel compassion for our global neighbours and an increased awareness of the problems in countries which are not so privileged as we are, as they struggle with poverty, water and sanitation problems, and difficulty in accessing vaccines. There is a common longing to get back to the things we cherish most, and more than that, to learn lessons from this horrible season, and do our bit, not simply to return to how things were, but to build a better world in the future.
‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’
Reverend Joyce Watson, St Columba, Isle of Iona