On January 26th, 2021, the United Kingdom recorded the tragic milestone of more than one hundred thousand deaths to Covid-19 since the pandemic begun, a little more than a year earlier. When PM, Boris Johnson, announced it to the nation at a briefing, he said that it was ‘hard to compute the sorrow contained in this grim statistic’. It has often been said that the Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone, but it is clear that the poorest communities are the ones that suffer the most. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has stressed that the ‘pervasive inequalities’ that have been amplified during the coronavirus pandemic, ‘may threaten the fabric of society’.
Experts have warned that children from disadvantaged backgrounds will suffer the consequences of this crisis for decades to come. There is a concern about the children’s social skills and cognitive progress, and at the same time, about parents struggling in their routines, juggling working from home and supporting home schooling. Too many people have lost their jobs and are being told to consider retraining. One wonders how easily that can be achieved, particularly for middle-aged people, who have had the same job all their lives.
There have been many wonderful initiatives to keep the public active, fit, and mentally stable. The BBC has launched educational resources for children to watch and learn from home. We have heard of many acts of kindness across the country, acts of humanity that have brought communities together, to help the needy and particularly the vulnerable who have been shielding.
In an effort to remain hopeful, focussed and mentally strong, I often go for walks. A few weeks ago, whilst walking in the park I was reflecting about the uncertainties the world is facing and the grim statistics the pandemic has left us with. Suddenly, there it was, a tall tree standing in the middle of a beautiful but rather wintry surrounding. I felt as if God was telling me to stop worrying and start appreciating the natural world. What caught my attention was the sight of a tree, which I thought had lights, much like a Christmas tree. However, after paying a closer look, I realised that it was the sun shining through small droplets of water falling from the branches after a frosty night which made them look like shiny pearls. It was a beautiful sight that led me to pause in awe and wonder at God’s creation.
The image of those shinny pearls in the tree stayed with me for some time and helped me ponder about the little things that are life-giving, the small glimpses of hope in the midst of a critical time. I experience the same feeling when I see a seemingly fragile snowdrop breaking through the frozen ground at this time of the year. The majestic appearance of snowdrops that rise against a backdrop of cold, frozen and misty air.
Amid the harshest of conditions, God’s life-sustaining power holds the little flowers, the shiny droplets and each of us in our vulnerabilities.
As we approach Lent, when Christians around the world contemplate, fast and pray for forty days prior to Easter, I want to hold on to those glimpses of hope. Through the image of those shiny droplets or the snowdrops I want to recall God’s unfailing promise to hold us close to Him, even when we feel alone and weary. Remembering Jesus’ words ‘do not be afraid for I am with you till the end of times’ (Mt.28:20). I’d invite you to think of the little things that shine in our lives, the glimpses of hope that sustain us.
“The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person's face.”