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A message of hope from our Chaplain

Chaplain Revd. Jo Davis reflects on the importance of asking for help during this challenging lockdown and suggests ways to keep the faith and stay positive…

During the lockdown last spring, I was surprised one morning by an email from the Gatehouse to say I had a parcel. We weren’t expecting anything (there were no birthdays in the house), but a lovely book had arrived from my best friend. It’s called: ‘The Boy, the Mole the Fox and the Horse’ and it’s written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy, and published in the UK by Penguin.

I talked about it in a Junior Chapel service last year – and what a blessing it was before I’d been able to do much more than flick through it. But it has become something of a real comfort. It was Waterstones’ Book of the Year 2019 and it has a host of famous endorsements on the back. Miranda Hart wrote: “Simply, the world needs Charlie’s work right now” and that was before 2020 had really got going. It has been more important than even Charlie could have imagined. Even if you don’t have a copy, I’m sure that you’ve seen some of the beautiful drawings shared on social media. 

As a family we sat in the kitchen over the Christmas holidays and listened to the story read by Charlie himself on Radio 4 while looking at the pictures in the book. It was a lovely way to spend 40 minutes – and it’s still on BBC iPlayer if you want to listen too.

As many people have already said, this lockdown feels much different from the first one in March. Spring is still a few months away; the days are still short and cold and enthusiasm, creativity and new ideas are difficult to grasp. Our friends and loved ones seem further away, and all of the hope of the new year seems to have deflated. 

This time it is more important to take care of our wellbeing – because the end is in sight. There is light at the end of these dark days, though sometimes it is hard to keep focused on it. In those times ask for help from your family, your friends and colleagues, or any of the staff here, because I’ve yet to speak to someone who hasn’t found life difficult at some point over the last ten months. ‘Help’ is not a weakness, it’s a strength, as Horse points out:

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.
“Help.” said the horse.

Some days it is easier not to watch the news, but I am so glad that among the daily figures of those who have tested positive for Covid, those in hospital, and those who have sadly lost their lives, there is the figure of those vaccinated. It is the second highest number – at 2.4 million yesterday and rising. It’s got a little way to go to overtake the total number of infections but it is getting there and will win. 

A psalm spoke to me at the weekend while I was praying – it speaks of keeping faith and staying positive. The verse was:

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
    righteousness and peace will kiss each other.

Love and faithfulness will meet, goodness and peace will kiss each other. We cannot meet or kiss those that we would like to, outside of our homes, but that doesn’t mean that love and faithfulness and goodness and peace stop. For me this book epitomises this. Even from our homes we need to do our best to keep love and hope and goodness and peace going in our world, together. Horse, again:

“Everyone is a bit scared,” said the horse.
“But we are less scared together.”

If you are having a difficult time, please speak to someone about it and ask for help. If you are having a better time, ask yourself: “who can I speak to, help, reach out to, to check on?” We might not be experiencing things the same way and our situations are different, but we are all in this together, we are less scared together, and we will get through it together. 

So, may the Lord bless you and keep you,
make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you,
the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.

This is taken from the Chaplain’s Chapel service on Wednesday 13 January – please do feel free to join in on Wednesday mornings at 8:30am, or catch up with the service later in the week.