A ‘New Normal’?
As I sat down to start to write this ‘piece’ for ‘Littleport Life, I suddenly realised that I am writing at the start of October, but you may not read this until December. Now, if I were writing last year, in October 2019, this would be no problem; but I am writing now, in the Year of the Global Pandemic! Last year, I would have been sure that the magazine would be produced just as usual; but – in this year – it could be that the magazine will not be published at all. In this time of great uncertainty I cannot know.
So I sat down and tried to think clearly about risk and uncertainty attached to the printing and publication of this magazine. What could happen in our country and in our world; and what it could mean for the people of Littleport and the magazine and… Over the last months, we have all discovered, at least in part, how to make decisions in the midst of a changing world.
I know that, in these last months, I have learned that many things I had always thought of being certain (like finding loo-rolls on supermarket shelves) were not really certain at all – likely maybe, but not certain.
This does, of course, bring me back to the original problem – by the time you read this, you will know what happened in the months between October and December. And all I can do is to consider trends and possibilities that I can see emerging now and write about that.
When the full lockdown began to ease, we started to think about what the church could do in these new strange conditions. So, for example, what could we do about ‘Vine Tots’? (That’s the parents and toddlers group that the church has been running for a few years now.)
Monday mornings, for its members, used to be thirty plus children hurtling around the whole of our building; together with a lot of very big toys, a few helpers, stories, games and all the mums and carers enjoying a bit of a break, while they chatted and drank coffee.
Well, of course, all that just isn’t possible in our current circumstances. How do you keep toddlers socially distanced?
Some of you may know how Vine Tots is now functioning. Like a lot of other activities, it has found a temporary home on our YouTube channel. It is not, of course, the same as it was. The children can have as much fun and input as before. The mums and carers have to do a bit more; and everyone has a lot less space. But, overall, much of what used to be achieved is still there to be enjoyed.
A lot of churches, all over the country, have moved some of their activities online. On a Sunday morning, in the comfort of your own home, you can join in with Sunday services of many different kinds. You can visit the Ark (in Isleham), for example; you can enjoy their new building, hum along to the songs and listen to the sermon. And there are many more and all of them are different and warm hearted.
Many people, like me, are using the phone far more than they used to; speaking to people that they may not, for this season, visit in person. Some of my friends are vulnerable to this disease and therefore I ‘visit’ to talk but not to endanger.
I have also noticed that, with people I can still visit in person, I am more careful to make sure that I do ‘drop by’ and spend time with them and, if possible do things together – at a distance of course.
So I can see that we are all adapting, not to a new normal, but to a new way of thinking. I think that many of us will come out of all this, with a fresh approach to ideas, plans and people.
And I pray that all of us will find, as a result of this disease, a better understanding of what – or Who – is really certain. The God who made the universe and made mankind to live in it, He does not change, He is certain and sure, and He cares for us all.