Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), an American Poet, once said, “There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.” Yet, it is hard to believe that we’re in October, nine months since Covid-19 hit our community, nation and globally and we are still suffering.
However, many of us have found our peace in such times. Philip Baldwin told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat that “faith was a core part of his identity. Without it, lockdown would have been so much harder.” He also said that “changing the way we live because of coronavirus had been hard for a lot of us. For others, prayer has made a big difference in getting through the tough months of lockdown. It’s left a big void which religion has been able to fill.”
Why has lockdown been difficult for many? I believe that it has allowed us the time and space to face ourselves, to understand who we really are rather than the public face worn outside the house. Nathaniel Hawthorne also said: “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true”. And, unfortunately, isolation can sometimes reveal the tensions of our true face which others are not meant to see.
However, if we hold the belief of Jesus Christ by faith, we’re at peace with our public face because it becomes our only face. We are not bewildered. We find purpose in our lives. We recognise that this purpose is far greater than personal fulfilment, peace of mind or even our happiness. It’s far greater than family, career and even our wildest dreams and ambitions. If we want to know of our purpose on this planet, community, we begin with our faith in God, which can be the covering for these aspirations.
The first chapter of Colossians (The Message) cites: “For everything, absolutely everything above and below, visible and invisible, everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.” Bertrand Russell, an atheist, also cites: “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”
We have the opportunity to find peace in ourselves and, according to Nathaniel Hawthorne, “find a place to fill in the world” starting with community. But this transformation starts as an inside job of recovering our faith, prayers and belief from the God of a Second Chance. We come to realise that: “It is God who directs the lives of his creatures: everyone’s life is in his power” and it is never too late to be what we might have been.
Emotional CEO Elon Musk of SpaceX shared on 3rd August: “I am not religious, but I prayed for this one”, as he greeted the splashdown of NASA’s astronauts after their two-month International Space Station (ISS) mission. Prayer is not only for special occasions. If we are too busy to pray, we are busier than what God intended us to be and sometimes life has a way of telling us to slow down or pause for a while to calm our restless spirits for prayer and re-start our journey of belief. That’s why we hold for our villages regular Friday evening prayers at St Michael’s, led by Geoff Strutt, regular Monday evening Bible studies (via Zoom) and have a website portal for community prayer requests.
In closing, may I invite you to share a daily prayer for October in the following words of Reinhold Niebuhr: “God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Amen.”
Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of the Claydons
Prayer for October
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things which should be changed, and
wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.