Recent reflections by Evelyn Humphreys – Mossley Congregational Representative and Media Team
I have been thinking back over the weeks of the pandemic and turning over in my head the personal journey it has been, what it has meant and what will it mean for my future.
Although we have all been in lockdown as a collective, whilst within our own enclosures, each of us will have had a unique experience, whether having shared a house, or in my case been in complete isolation working from home.
Some, as we know, have found it incredibly hard, particularly not seeing people, struggling to add structure to fill their days. Parents home schooling, finding new appreciation for their childrens teachers. While others worked longer and harder hours to keep the ‘machine’ moving for the rest of us. These Key-workers instilled a National Pride into all of us, and we must forever remember to be indebted.
I don’t believe that God caused this to happen, why would a God of love cause so much pain? But without a doubt I have seen His hand working through it, from the front line resolve and beyond.
From my perspective I have been fortunate to observe and experience so many positive outcomes. Even in the times (and there were more than I care to remember) where I was hit by incredible anxiety. Im so thankful that my friends, my family and my faith got me through. In daily walks and Zoom conversations, I have witnessed families enjoying time with each other, that in the fast lives of pre-lockdown would have been few and far between.
On one of my daily walks, which Im so grateful we were allowed, my attention was caught by the laughter from a front garden, I turned and smiled to see a father kicking a ball about with his young teenaged daughter. An image I’ll carry forever. The brilliant weather and Thursday Clap for Carers allowed us to get to know our neighbours, sitting out front in the sunshine, chatting over fences and freshly lawned gardens.
Gardens! … along with paint-freshened houses, have never looked so good. A result of everyone searching for projects to fill their days at home. And when that was accomplished, the lockdown-nation tried their hand at baking! Personally I believe the standard of entrees for Channel 4s Great British Bake Off next year will be on another level. Myself and my next door neighbour began our own little ‘Ballyduff Bake-Off’, and aided each other in the on-going quest for self-raising flour! The best part …was giving it all away!
Personally for me, the gift of time has certainly been a blessing. Time to rest and sleep longer. Frazzled batteries getting a much needed recharge. Talking it through with some people however, they really struggled with the enforced brakes and sudden halt.. so used to racing against time to be somewhere, to move on to the next job, the next thing.
Suddenly we were given time that allowed relationships to deepen. Time to pop a ‘head round a door’ (socially distanced of course) or help those who are unable to help themselves. The greatest gift you could give, your time on a telephone call.
In this time I also found new and exciting glimpses of God, by embracing the quiet in the ‘secret place’ of His presence.
Anyone who knows me or maybe even has joined me for a ramble, will know how much I love and find refreshment in nature. Where I live I’m incredibly blessed to have my choices of greenway getaways, Three Mile Water Conservation Park on one side, and on the other, for when I’m feeling a little more energetic, Carnmoney Hill.
As lockdown moved on, Spring exploded, due to the wonderful weather (plus the bees I’m told) nature seemed to accelerate. Little woodland flowers quietly bursting out of their buds early and goslings and ducklings rolling out of their shells just after Easter. It’s been a delight witnessing them grow from fluffy greenish puff balls over the weeks. The harmony and serenity of nature really speaks loudly to my soul. So much happening, always moving forward, battered by the elements but finding a way to explode into colour, spreading their wings and blossoming.
We read in Psalm 19:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
…surly verse three tells us that God speaks and reveals Himself in the quiet?
Hill walking in the Mournes, I have found, that the elements can really dictate the whole experience. Sometimes the tougher the weather, and the thicker low level cloud, can add to the ‘buzz’ of achievement (and relief) as you arrive back safely to your parked car.
One day, on a path which I had followed countless times, a group of us found ourselves fighting against heavy winds, toppling gusts, and struggling to be heard in gasps for breath. As we travelled between two peaks, a silence engulfed us, and it was deafening. We read in 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was fearful and downcast hiding in a cave on Mount Horeb…
11The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
Maybe we need to take an example from nature, Gods creation, and turn down the noise and embrace the quiet. In looking for our Father there we will be sure to find him in technicolour, and ultimately hear His voice.
All photos taken By Evelyn Humphreys on Carnmoney Hill: Spring/Summer Covid-19 Lockdown 2020