Eltham group during lockdown by Margaret Culley
Everyone everywhere has been very challenged by this global pandemic – the good news has been how scientists and doctors have been, and still are, working closely together to find ways to control/eradicate the virus.
We’ve also been hugely appreciative of the NHS, remember the ten Thursdays when many of us clapped, banged our saucepans in appreciation, and we included all the cleaners and auxiliaries. And how we all suddenly appreciated care workers, delivery drivers, warehouse people, and posties – these were and are the people that keep our show on the road – looking after loved ones, or making sure food got to the supermarkets and to the very valuable corner shops, and that we keep connected.
How huge numbers of people volunteered to help out in the NHS, neighbours, community groups, local authorities and charities – these have been positives in a very difficult time, especially for those in our age group and for anyone who has had to be shielding.
Most importantly, our Christian faith has helped and will be helping us always in the future – so whether we pray our own prayers, or we have access to the internet and daily online Masses and devotions, our faith has and will sustain us.
I am sure that many members in the other groups have found similar ways of getting through and managing, as we have – prayer especially, and talking to family and friends on the phone – video calls have been a great boon. Then a whole range of activities: knitting and crocheting for great-grandchildren, organising home and gardens, decorating, eBaying unwanted items, gardening, long walks, the gym, indoor exercises, reading, TV and radio – (although it’s a good idea to limit the amount of news, as even before all this, it’s often been repetitive and simply depressing). We’ve also individually enjoyed meeting up, safely, with our families and good friends, when lockdown eased a bit – even venturing out to restaurants, and travelling by train into London to visit the National Gallery. We’ve kept in touch as a group through emails, texts and phone calls, and on Saturdays, often, a few of us who attend the weekday Mass at our local church will go for a coffee and a chat afterwards – we’ve not yet exceeded the rule of six!
Catch-up on lock-down by Bridget Nuttgens (Malton, York)
The months have been melting into each other: both August and September were into their 2nd week before I realised they had changed. Our diocese has obeyed the rules very strictly and as we’re rural and scattered, our little Ascent group have only been contacting each other by phone. However we’ve now had Mass the last 5/6 weeks, (do you know Mass is booked up!)and Fr Tim has weekly contact with each of his parishioners, by email or post (many people don’t have computers ) which includes the Parish notices, the Wednesday Word and his homily. Many people who have difficulty getting around have been finding hearing Mass on line wonderful, and my 99-year-old friend whom I drive to Church has been enjoying reading the homily so much because in Church she’s so deaf she can’t hear a thing!
What I’ve been finding so wonderful is having our Journey in Faith meetings on Zoom (haven’t to depend on somebody driving out of their way to pick me up as I no longer drive after dark).I have always hated phoning and even in adult life have to screw myself up sometimes to make a call, but because – another strange thing – all sorts of people (even several of my children’s friends) have found the need to have long Phone calls I feel I’ve got a job to do in this way. Of course, this includes my 9 children, who are so concerned for my welfare, bless them; and I’ve learned to use WhatsApp for this. I don’t know if I told you that Nick, our eldest, is well into his 2nd year of trial treatment for myeloma. He will, in effect be on treatment for the rest of his life: if it comes back he just starts at the beginning again, but he has been lucky about side effects and is ready to accept how many more years God sends him. He says in the early black weeks he woke one day to the sun flooding through the window and thought:” I love life; I want to live, for however long I have.” One daughter’s marriage has also been in trouble and needs much support. I don’t know if you have come across how difficult it is to find medical support for what is known as a psychotic episode’. Through Journey in Faith, I feel I’ve been given the grace of making a new relationship with the Holy Spirit to give the right support, and her husband is through it(He doesn’t even remember it) and they’re in the process of coming together again. It has been very painful.
But I’ve just had a lovely email from Pat’s( my husband) nephew saying that his mother, Pat’s sister Joan, who is in the last days of life has come to some peace and says she just ‘goes with the flow’. She went onto palliative care 2 months ago, and by such luck, my son Jamie was staying with me and drove me up to Hartlepool to see her – for what is now going to be for the last time.
Please forgive this letter it sounds like a collection of excuses.I am now about to try and write a condolence letter to the mother of a lovely girl, Mich, who started as a sculptor making big pieces, then had to move first into pottery from a wheelchair and then into etching but I’ve just got a very sad and loving email from York Civic Trust to which she’s been Secretary for the last few years to say she has died suddenly. And of course (here’s the guilt again) I’ve thought frequently of her mother who is a lonely sort of person but haven’t got round to contacting her for many months.