A view from the pew – Lockdown and faith

Like many of you who will be reading this, I live on my own.  I have been worshipping at St Mary’s for about 20 years on at least a weekly basis, and since moving into the town after my husband’s death five years ago I have become much more involved in the daily life of the church – both the building and the people.

When the news came through that I had to stay in my house, initially for three weeks and then three again, and again….. I was initially filled with panic.  Since being on my own I had managed to fill my life with lots of ‘things’ that kept me busy and I really wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with all that time – alone.  I am fortunate that with a wonderful family and now many really good friends in the town I have never felt lonely but I frequently feel alone. Alone is completely different; it is no-one to share a joke with or talk over the day with late at night; it is no-one to share those silly moments with, no-one to hug you for you (not as mum or gran but as you). So many of us (in today’s parlance) have the same tee-shirt. So the immediate future loomed.

There were two aspects to this.  The first was the whole prospect of all that time ‘on my own’.  I have never minded my own company and had always managed to occupy it pretty adequately, but this was on a whole new scale; day after day, week after week, all the same.  I struggled with the first few days but then started doing what many of you have also done – listing two or three jobs to do the next day, before I went to bed, so that I could get up in the morning with a purpose.  I have to say that it is slightly worrying how quickly I have adjusted from a very busy life, to one where these two or three jobs not only take me, on and off, most of the day, but also leave me feeling quite satisfied, and with some sense of achievement at the end of it!  How will I cope with post lockdown life?!

So much for lockdown – what about faith?  I was brought up by church-going parents, and had a wonderful childhood which encompassed Sunday School on Sunday afternoons and morning Matins, (because I am that old!) picnics, and the end of sweet rationing.  I can still remember the excitement of seeing all the sweets in the shop, and spending my threepence pocket money on a whole bag full of sweets! Like so many my late teenage years, and for a period after that, my church attendance was patchy to say the least.  Through all that time, I kept saying my prayers before I went to sleep at night, which was a habit I had carried on from my childhood.  Then I started going back to church regularly again, and came to value that pattern in my life.  It has to be said that ‘marrying a vicar’ rather cemented that pattern!  Since I have moved into Cleobury, the life of the church has become a large part of my life here.  However, even though I have always said my prayers at home, as well as in church, I did wonder how I was going to cope with not going to the building which had become such a central part of my life and seeing the people I was used to seeing every week?

I have always considered that sharing together in the worship of God and, for me, sharing in the Eucharist is a vital part of my Christian journey.  It still is, and I can’t wait to be able to do that again. It will certainly fill a void that is there at present, but God is full of surprises.  I have surprised myself by finding a peace in private prayers and reflection that I had not known before.  Perhaps I had never given it the time that I am able to give it at the moment.

I remember my Gran saying to me,

“spend time with God and He will spend time with you”. 

How right she was.  My life, like everyone else’s, has been full of ups and downs.  Some of those downs have been long and difficult for a variety of reasons.  For many years, I was nervous of being too happy, as I felt that it was only going to lead to another down.  In the remorseless pattern of these things it often did, but I have always found that my faith has given me not only the strength to come through those downs, but also a sense of peace, and the security of knowing that I had ‘managed’ to get to the other side.  God was always there, wrapping me in His love and His peace, and giving me the strength I needed.   It did not stop me from being angry, weeping and feeling that the world was at an end, but it did pick me up again and calm me down and enable me to carry on. 

God is here with all of us now, and inviting us to spend time with Him.   I have always loved the story of Martha and Mary in the Bible. I felt that I was definitely a Martha, and have been most of my life.   These last 2 months have forced me to be much more of a Mary, and I have found that it has helped me a lot.  We all need to spend more time with God. 

Liz Smith

Co-Ordinator of The Pastoral Care Group


A further thought ………..

If any of you would like to share your experience of lockdown – the things that you have struggled with, the things you have done, the things that have made you laugh and you have enjoyed – then please do email me (lizandgeoffsmith@gmail.com) and perhaps I can put together a sheet of all your comments (anonymously) to share with everyone.  It might help us all to hear how others are coping.  Equally, if anyone fancies a virtual coffee and chat (on Zoom!) do say and we will see what we can fix up.