The Things We Are Learning image

The Things We Are Learning

Three weeks in (I think it’s three weeks but am losing track of the days): how are you doing with lockdown? There are things we’re learning through this. Here are some of mine.

Distraction vs Rest
Things that we often do for relaxation are, in truth, not very relaxing – they are much more in the category of ‘distracting’. Life is often busy and painful and humans look for what will distract us from that reality, whether that’s Facebook, Netflix or cocaine. But these things are not restful. In lockdown we’re finding that too much internet, too much screen time, too much social media is leaving us more frazzled. I’m re-imposing some digital disciplines on myself: walk away from the screen; drink coffee slowly; sit in the sun; pray; rest.

Patience vs Hurry
We’re not used to having to wait in long lines outside supermarkets – it’s reminiscent of 1970s Russia. We’re not used to Amazon slowing it’s delivery of non-essential items. We’re having to learn patience – and not only when shopping. We’re having to learn patience with the members of our households, and with ourselves. For those with a high sense of responsibility and need to achieve this is a challenging time. I’m trying to lean into it: slow down; don’t stress; be at peace.

Zoom vs Meeting
Thank God for Zoom. From large online church services, to intimate small groups, it’s an absolute boon. But it is also exhausting. As Abby Ohlheiser writes,

People are coping with the coronavirus pandemic by upending their lives and attempting to virtually re-create what they lost. The new version, however, only vaguely resembles what we left behind. Everything is flattened and pressed to fit into the confines of chats and video-conference apps like Zoom, which was never designed to host our work and social lives all at once. The result, for introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between, is the bizarre feeling of being socially overwhelmed despite the fact that we’re staying as far away from each other as we can.

It’s Toughest for the 20s
When lockdown started one of the first things we did at a church leadership level was put together a list of all those in the congregation over the age of 70 and ensure they were receiving regular contact. What we’re now learning is that many of the older generation are already well equipped to handle this time. Many of them are all too used to living alone and not going out much. They already have well established relationship networks – they are used to making daily phone calls to check in on each other.

By contrast, it is the singles in their 20s who are struggling the most. This is the demographic who would normally be the most social and spend the least amount of time at home. They also often live in small flats rather than family homes with gardens. This time is agony for them.

The Pros & Cons of Being Telegenic
As we’re putting more things online we’re learning what has always been obvious: on a 2D screen the people who connect most effectively are the extrovert, young and beautiful. It might make sense for TV producers to favour these kind of people to present shows but it is a slippery slope when it comes to ministry. Even as we seek to make our church online presence as good as possible we need to remember that being telegenic doesn’t feature anywhere in the Bible’s qualifications for spiritual leadership.

Birdsong is Beautiful
One of the things I’m most enjoying about this new rhythm is sitting outside the front of my house in the morning, praying, drinking a coffee, and watching the sun rise over my neighbour’s roof. And hearing the birds sing. Normally the morning traffic would make this a very different experience, and the birds hard to hear. But birdsong is beautiful.

Happy Easter!


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