Today marks 90 days since I went into self-isolation and then shielding. I’ve said before how difficult it has been for an extrovert who loves being around people to be locked up with only a few scary outings to the hospital and doctor’s. But I also know how fortunate I am because my youngest son lives with me and is a very strict protector and shield. (He’s the introvert son btw, so life in lockdown hasn’t been any noisier than it would have been were I alone!)
My ministry has changed and adapted, as others have, and while phone calls are good and Whatsapp groups are fun and this old woman has learned some computer skills she never thought she needed, it is just not the same. There is always a feeling that I could be doing more.
I don’t feel as frightened now as I did at the beginning. Maybe 3 months indoors has taken the edge off that fear while I am in the house. But there will come a point when I am allowed out and whenever I do think about that I realise I am just as scared. Why?
Because I hear the stories, I see the photos, and it doesn’t look like many people are sticking to the rules of social distancing. At the weekend we were told in Scotland that people could travel 5 miles for exercise or to meet with other small groups as long as social distancing was heeded. Personally I know 3 families who broke those rules. That’s why I’m scared. Even if I could go out, I’d be too scared to. And I never used to be a scared person. I used to be a risk-taker. You should have seen the size of my platform shoes, then you’d know how dangerously I lived. But now I’m older and wiser and I’m not ready to die yet. I have so many plans for my retirement and while people break the rules I might never get there. I might never get to write that memoir, learn how to paint in watercolour, wander round art galleries, read Wolf Hall and the sequels, meet up with old friends regularly for chat and coffee, learn how to cook and bake… all the things I can’t do now.
You who break the rules are taking that away from me. I know you don’t mean to. It may be that you’re older than I am and you figure you’ve had a good innings so what the heck. It may be that you’re desperate to see your grandchildren and bending one wee rule doesn’t make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. It may be that you’re a risk-taker like I used to be and you’re prepared to take your chances. You’re fit, you’re healthy, you walk, cycle, run and you don’t have any other illnesses so you’d probably have a good chance of survival if you did catch it.
So I wait in a little longer, maybe a lot longer. And my poor son has to wait in with me. I wait in fear when I think of going out so I try not to think about it. I try to focus on today only. Lord knows, I’ve given that advice to many over the years. Today brings phone calls, admin, emailing out Sunday’s ‘spiritual communion’ service and newsletter and sermonette, and perhaps a Zoom catch up with clergy friends. That’s what I shall do today.
But may I ask you to be careful today? Then I will feel safer when the time comes.