Dear Friends

The month of June reminds us of summer and the clear skies and the warmth of the sun. Nathaniel Parker Willis cites, “It is the month of June, the month of leaves and roses, when pleasant sights salute the eyes and pleasant scents the noses”. And according to Al Bernstein, “Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June”. How lovely! Yet we are all struggling to make sense of the month of June in human terms navigating the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic, not only in this Parish but across our nation.

The question for today is whether any good has come out of the Coronavirus so far? I believe that through social distancing rules, self-isolation, the unfortunate loss of loved ones, unemployment, staff furlough, the work of our Key Workers, NHS Staff and Emergency services, some of us may have shifted our focus from the individual “I” to the collective “We”.

Let me explain. We appreciate that it’s unfair for our senior citizens to be lonely neither should desperate families suffer from the lack of emergency or normal food access. We care when parents tire from looking after their children unable to be at school. We care when partners, husbands, wives, children, our senior citizens and friends self-isolate due to coronavirus. It saddens us when the NHS services are unable to support the desperately ill because of the transfer of resources for coronavirus. We care when residents feel anxious, worried and desperate about their circumstances at present. It is no longer about the “I” or taking care of “me” only or I am fine and it’s only “I” which matters or my self-interest is limited to those of my friends and immediate family. No. We all matter. We are in this pandemic together and every person, family and senior citizen matter.

With the recent Victory in Europe celebrations in mind, Winston Churchill once said, “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If we do that, we double the danger. But if we meet it promptly and without flinching, we will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!” And one way we can respond to this pandemic for, say, positive mental health, is to live with gratitude and thanksgiving because, if we do, we need not seek happiness, it will seek us.

There’s a bible reading in the fourth chapter of Philippians which states: ”if there be any praise, think on these things”. The first step on the path of thanksgiving is to think on God’s goodness, to fill our mind with the facts concerning His love, and to hold them in the thoughts until they, in turn, have their effect on our emotions.

There is a hymn we used to sing, which says “Count your blessings” but can we? Well, yes, we can! We have never been desperately hungry while millions starve. Usually, there is enough food on our tables. We have the blessings of love and friendship even during this self-isolation time with the help of Facebook forums, WhatsApp, TikTok, emails, a phone call, Zoom or Microsoft Teams’ video conferencing. If we suffered bereavement of family or friends from Covid-19 (and some of us have), we have someone to share our suffering. And then we have our birthdays, anniversaries and good health so far. So, do we have any blessings? I believe we have – I have opened your list with a few examples.

So, let’s begin this month of June with a new list in our journal of opportunities entitled “Blessings”. Thereafter, we will be able to return to this month with the benefit of hindsight and conclude in the words of Ramona Carrol that “faith was actually putting all our eggs in God’s basket, and we counted our blessings before they hatched”. Our faith worked!

Stay blessed with love.

Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of the Claydons