One definition of ‘apocalypse’ is ‘an event involving destruction or damage on a catastrophic scale’. Covid-19 feels like if fits the bill to me.
Good news though is all around. I confess that I feel somewhat like a pendulum. I am swinging from feeling hopefilled and even (dare I say it) excited about how society can change for the better through this, to despairing and fearful over how overwhelming the changes expected are, how big the virus is and how little it seems we can do to fight it.
Last night I was very much in the despairing box. It is my wedding anniversary today, and, as we are in isolation, we will be spending it at home, hopefully with bubbles, but it all feels just a little like our everyday life (not the bubbles part) and we had been hoping to have a chance to actually celebrate it this year.
However, this morning I am more pensively hopeful. The reality of course, is that life will change. However, the opportunity for our society to grow through this, to become less individualistic and selfish is huge.
Imagine a politics that was less angry and hatefilled – perhaps, through getting to know our neighbours and realising that those who vote/think differently to us are not in fact monsters, we might just become less polarised.
Imagine a world that valued those ‘low-skilled’ jobs, so often looked down on and seen as insignificant and yet many of them proving to be the jobs we simply cannot live without being done.
Imagine a society in which you cannot live in your home for a few years knowing almost none of your neighbours, because you all actually say hi to each other.
Imagine a community that notices the old lady next door doesn’t get out much and so ensures she has contact, support and help daily.
Imagine a church that is not so focussed on a Sunday service it is given more time for pastoral care and community growth and inclusion.
Imagine that people don’t see a crisis as something that will affect ‘me’ but as something that will affect ‘us’ and so don’t panic buy and hoard goods to help them survive weeks, ensuring that others don’t know how to survive days.
Surviving this apocalypse is a new challenge. It’s terrifying, anxiety inducing and overwhelming. I have a high risk granny, father and husband and the prospect of social distancing for months to come makes me literally shake with anxiety.
However, the positives I have seen this week – neighbours picking stuff up for us in isolation, even though we have never met. Having a chance to get to know some of the older people in my church through phoning them and checking in every day or two. The offers of help being given to complete strangers. The memes, GIFs and jokes that lighten the mood. The lack of civil unrest despite unprecedented measures to restrict our lives being implemented.
These show the route to surviving, and maybe even coming out the other side better than we were before.
So, if you don’t know how to get through the coming months, focus on today. If the news is overwhelming you, reach out to someone and tell them. It’s not wrong to find it all too much. If you feel guilty because you don’t feel you have the capacity to help others – don’t. This just means others will come to help you. We should give and we should take as we need and no more than we can/need.
If you are a Christian, pray. Pray, but also act. This can be from your home, phone people who are isolating. Put books out on your doorstep (cleaned before hand obvs!) for neighbours to borrow/swap. Give some of your tins and toilet paper, pasta and rice to your local food Bank/neighbours who can’t get hold of stuff so that those that couldn’t stock up can be less afraid. Also, look online to see what community stuff is happening in your neighbourhood and give from what you have.
It is overwhelming. It is frightening. It is a complete change to our way of life. It is also an opportunity to hope for, pray for and act to bring about changes in our society that could see it be more inclusive, open and caring than before.