September letter – Wally the walrus.

Dear Friends,

Some of you may have been following the exploits of Wally the walrus, as he’s moved round our shores and those of our near neighbours in Europe. There’s no record of a walrus coming this far South before and no one knows for sure why he’s here.

Wally has been climbing onto small boats moored close to shore for a rest, in the same way that he’d use ice floes at home. Unfortunately Wally has injured his flippers and experts think this may have happened as he’s climbed on board these boats.

The question in my mind is, ‘why has Wally headed for (to him) strange looking boats instead of the relatively nearby beaches, where he’d be much less likely to get injured?’ This may be because he’s so used to slipping gently onto ice floes that his instinct tells him to do the most similar thing that he can, or it may be that he’s climbing onto empty boats because he’s been put off the beaches by the number of humans there.

Like Wally, we’re all still in strange waters, although we hope that the pandemic is on its way to becoming something that we can live with. As we move on, we need to ask whether we might be in danger of acting like Wally  – ie doing the nearest thing we can to ‘normal’ regardless of whether it is good for us, even when there is potentially a more suitable alternative available.

The alternative is to accept that life will never go back completely to what we knew before the lockdown. Then we can start to think about what changes we will need to make to what we do and to how we do it, in light of the new realities that we will need to live with.

Learning to live with Covid is going to be a process. We don’t know how long it will be before the pandemic can be considered to be ‘over’. It may be some time before the impact of Covid on our lives becomes more low key. In the meantime we’re all gradually finding our way forward, at our own pace.

It’s clear that some are ready to go faster than others, just as some found the use of technology helpful during the lockdown and others didn’t. There is no right or wrong in that. God made us all different, but we are all made in God’s own image(Genesis 1: 27). It takes all of us with our many different temperaments and potentials to reflect even a small part of who our God is.

During lockdown we learnt that we need to do things differently for different people. That may be something that we need to continue. Maybe going forward we will need to offer more variety in what we do and how we do it. That will take some thinking about, so that we don’t overburden anyone, but so that we do manage to work in ways that connect with a wide variety of folk.

So let’s take our time about moving forward, but let’s also keep our eyes open and get our thinking caps on day by day, so that, as much as possible, we include everyone. For without all of us, something is missing  – in our fellowship – in our community – in the image of God that we try to project.

May God open our eyes to see and our hearts to include,