I expect many had great plans for this year, 2020, as I did. Like myself we have all had to accept a completely different way of life, as imposed by the government to protect us from Covid-19.
A few of the things I look forward to are planning time with the family, holiday breaks and enjoying the changes in the year’s seasons. This year the spring has been glorious, and my garden has been a kaleidoscope of colour. The pure white of snowdrops, deep gold of aconites, various shades of violets and crocuses, followed by dwarfed and tall daffodils interspersed with primroses, forget-me-knots, bluebells and tulips at ground level. As far as the eye could see we have been through the stages of the blossom and leaves of the hedgerows and trees in their various shades of white, pink, yellow, greens and browns. It has been so sad that so many have not been able to enjoy the spring and early summer because of lock-down.
The writing of this reflection has been difficult due to the consequences of the virus, which has brought such grief, distress, anxiety and fear to so many. Globally our environment seems to have benefitted from the reduction in the destructive effect of emissions from transport and industry. However, many people will be left with huge gaps in their lives.
The words of Isaiah the prophet came to mind, ‘The Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.’ (Isaiah 61:1-3)
The aftermath of this time could never be one of thanksgiving and acceptance wholeheartedly of what has happened throughout this world. It will behove us to have a deep acceptance of the responses to the fallout of what has happened. Our prayer, however, could be that people will be able to find this passage a help in these troubled times and to strengthen them for the future. Can we really explain that God can give a crown of beauty instead of ashes, that there can be the ‘soothing’ oil of gladness to replace mourning and that we can be clothed with garments of praise instead of a spirit of despair. It will take time, acceptance and trust as well as a restoration of faith in God. Our part will be to be faithful, non-judgemental and consistent ourselves. Yes, we will recover – people and nations do because history gives us the evidence.
We have three cherry trees bordering our garden. Their blossom is stunning, a panorama of pink. Some years the petals fall in bridal showers of confetti if there is a strong wind at the end of the flowering season. At first the ground and driveway resemble pink frosted icing on a cake – yet another beautiful spectacle. However, after a few April showers, the pink disappears into a mottled pinky-brown soggy mess and, for many, that will be the aftermath of this time. Yet the pink blossom of those trees has been replaced with beautiful green foliage that is ready for the summer. They will be crowned with pinky-red foliage in the autumn which, in turn, will drop to the ground leaving a tree ready to rest and start the whole process again next year. Life always does go on, but may well be different, the same for many, slightly different for some and yet more so for others.