It feels that over the past few months, the corona virus has forced us into learning a whole new language. We have social distancing, self-isolation, rule of six and shielding have all become a part of our lives and I wonder will some of them make their way into the Oxford dictionary next year.
Hand sanitiser, plexiglass screens, thermometers and face masks are here to stay for the time being and that also means a rise in the mental health challenges that we face..
Some at the moment are sticking to the rules and some less so, but we do know that we are supposed to distance ourselves from one another, but from a mental health and wellbeing point of view we have never been more in need of connection.
Which might explain why calendars are now full of meetings on Zoom, or Microsoft rooms quizzes zooms and skype and endless video calls with family and friends. all of which can make us feel exhausted but the point is our need for one another is hardwired into our brains.
We see it in Genesis when Man was alone and God declared “it is not Good for man to be alone” He needs a companion and so began the company of another. John Dunn famously said 'No man is an island'
At the peace at the moment we are saying 'Shalom' to one another for many we read it as peace but the Jewish people would explain that its the closest word we have to wellbeing in scripture and that it can be described as “wholeness, completeness and well-being . . . It does, however, have several second meanings encompassing health, security, friendship, peace, prosperity, justice, righteousness and salvation, all of which are necessary if wholeness, completeness and well- being are to come about.”
In toodles this week we had the story of the paralysed man being lowered through the roof to be meet with Jesus. it shows us how we can care for one another within a community, something that during these times is even more important.
“These men were so desperate to bring their friend into contact with Jesus and hoped and prayed that Jesus was the one who could heal him and so they dug through the roof (not even owned by one of them) to do so, Its an astonishing act of friendship; not least because I doubt the owner of the house was particularly happy with his roof being demolished
I dont want you to to dig through ceilings for our friends, by its very nature true friendship can break down stigma.
I know the country is desperately trying not to go back into a full lock down but here in Liverpool we certainly are living under firmer restrictions.
as we move on we are still having to devise new ways to offer community and friendship to those who are most struggling. People living with a mental illness who are perhaps still unable to access help and support in the same way. This is why here at St Cuthberts we are running The Sanctuary course to try and find ways to reach out as a faith community. It's also why we have the Buddies and if anyone is in need please do contact me. This week coming we are focusing on Homelessness and hopefully we will be able to share some ideas from that. Here are a few ways we can use to reach out to one another during this difficult time:
Set up a regular, recurring time to talk. This can be on the phone or online, but being able to have set things in the diary enables people to establish rhythms to their days and weeks.
Encourage people to get outside as much as they can. For those who have decided to continue to shield this might be about having outside space they can use alone or at the very least some fresh air through a window to get every day.
Keep moving as much as possible. Many organisations are offering free online content to help people during these times; for example a gentle pilates class or something more rigorous!
Stay connected to St Cuthberts or your local church; whether that be through participating in small groups on Zoom, watching live streamed services or utilising the Church of England’s Daily phone service or if you feel able coming to our 6pm service or use the whats app groups we have for Toodle@4 intercessions and parishioners groups.
Don’t try and ‘fix’ people – let yourself and others grieve the losses incurred during these times and be encouraged to share the feelings that emerge with one another and with God in times of prayer and lament. Lament is part of our worship- we see it in the psalms and in many passages in the old and new testament. for a good starting place look at Psalm 42.