The reason for getting up out of bed, if that is possible for some of us, or the reason for anything we do, should reflect an act of gratitude that we can start a new day or more! But then, having done it, what we do with this new day is always a personal, albeit far-reaching, decision. “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” That quotation is from John Donne’s Devotions (1624), which I discovered thanks to the simplicity of internet research and, of course, he means every man and woman, indeed every living thing! It’s a sobering thought to consider that we are, each of us, a part of the incredible tapestry of life on this planet, if only for as long as we live. And not just for that long, either, as each of us will also leave behind, like the tail of a comet, a trail that may only diminish over a very long time.
Those of you who know me will know that my Christian belief, often buffeted by the storms of life, somehow clings inexorably and shapes my thoughts and actions, however imperfectly and helps me to define and refine my thinking. The road of life we all travel is a very personal journey, often lonely as we near the end, but always incredibly and complexly intertwined with many other travellers – people both close and afar. Often our friends, relatives, neighbours and associates are not always travelling along to the same imagined destination but, on the way, we sometimes find a common bond that helps to keep us linked. And I think that link, nurtured by humility and respect and care for each other, has been reinforced and enhanced in recent months. This current coronavirus isolation did disclose a few selfish acts (like the toilet paper scramble!) but, thankfully, many more acts of selfless behaviour that in our more recent past history may have been overrun or hidden by the busyness of our earlier lifestyle.
Like so many people in these past weeks I have also been emotionally distraught, principally because I am not allowed to visit Dorothy. But my distress is but nothing alongside the literally millions of others who have been afflicted by this coronavirus – and yet – they in turn, are only part of the many more who live and have lived with personal disability and disrupted lives caused by disease or personal afflictions. I have a deep sense of the trauma and misery of domestic violence from my own youth experiences and have tried to eliminate that behaviour in my marriage and family life. To my great satisfaction, our five children are all still married to their original partners and that is proving to be a solid base for our grandchildren. Only time will tell the next chapter; I am biased, but I think I have the best family, ever, scattered happily all around Australia, and I am so proud of the way they all keep in touch with me and, through me, to their lovely Mum!
Meanwhile, the acceptance of the truth ‘that we do not exist solely for ourselves’ and we ‘are not an island’ in the midst of any form of adversity means we can, like my lovely neighbours, look out for and help each other. Maybe these current troubles can actually enrich and enable us to recognise that this is, or at least can be, the start of a new beginning in our varied ways of life.
While we wait for the reality of all the new ways of living to emerge and gradually take hold, we need to keep our minds and body active on our little ‘island’ and to learn even more patience, too, as we, and the whole world around us, changes!