Pastoral Letter

Dear Friends

I hope you are all well and able to connect with those around you through neighbours and various outlets in the communities. I have been extremely impressed by the way in which people have come together to effectively transform a very difficult situation. Very kind volunteers have undertaken tasks to make sure that those who are vulnerable are shielded and that the physical and material needs of many are met in some way. It is all truly amazing. If you haven’t been able to connect in any way, please do feel free to email me and I will see what I can do to help.

As I consider the spirit of co-operation and service, which has grown within the communities, I have found myself pondering on the question, what will happen when all this is over? Will we return to ‘normal’ or will we build on what we have begun? Coincidently I read an article that addresses one of the issues and I have included it below.

“FOR MANY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, ISOLATION IS NOTHING NEW
Wheelchair user Fiona Gosden says the current universal experience in lockdown is what disabled people have always known
‘I’m a wheelchair user and am currently undergoing treatment which compromises my immune system, so I fall into the “shielding” category. This means that I’m advised to strictly stay at home and not even go outside once a day. I live in an accessible flat without a garden so it has been a test of my patience!
Having said that, this “new normal” that is being talked about is not too far from my reality. The isolation people are currently experiencing is the norm of many disabled people – having opportunities, choices and momentum taken away and being forced to work from home. Lockdown is giving people a new insight into the lifestyle of a disabled person.
I hope that this period of lockdown will give enough insight for all of us to understand what daily life often looks like for those with disabilities, and to consider helping to remove social barriers – in churches/church activities (and community activities) – which often exclude them.
Could we use this different time in lockdown to listen to the powerful voice of disabled people which so many of us have drowned out with the constant busyness and activities that so many take for granted?
Many of us living with disabilities have gained a unique perspective on life. My personal experience has involved me humbling myself to be dependent on others. Some of you might relate to this at the moment, as you wait for your online food delivery, for example.
One of the things it’s important to remember is that this is not necessarily a time when we should be worrying about how to get the best out of lockdown, which is something that I have heard often – “I need a project, I need to do something, I need to work, I need to achieve”. Although routine and keeping busy has its place at this time, I think it is important to remember that your worth is not based on what you achieve, or how busy you are. This is something I have learnt during recovery from 28 surgeries, especially my hand surgeries, where my body hasn’t been able to keep up with what my mind wants to tick off.
Despite the financial hardships and other challenges at this time, people are enjoying the opportunity to slow down, enjoy nature and take a step back from the rat race – and this is more important than we might realise.”
Reprinted with permission from Premier Woman Alive magazine, copyright Premier Christian Communications Ltd 2020, all rights reserved. womanalive.co.uk

Hopefully we will end up with a much more integrated society. In the way that our busyness and preoccupation with our own lives shaped who we were, it would be a blessing if our current situation was shaping who we will be, in terms of community growth and cohesion, sharing and love.

Every blessing to you all
Stephen

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