Continuing a occasional series of reflections Yvonne Hewitt, PCC Secretary in Beltingham with Henshaw, has shared this reflection.


image of track receding int the distance

For some time prior to lockdown I was beginning to feel my life ’in retirement’ was becoming a bit too busy. I enjoy most of my daily activities but there was a constant feeling of struggling to fit everything in. I have long resisted an immediate response to incoming messages but as the use of technology and in particular social media has increased this has proved more difficult. I have compromised and try to check messages at least on a daily basis. The idea of having a week or even two weeks with a clear diary was always really quite appealing but not so easy to achieve.

Along came Covid 19 and the need for lockdown. Not only the opportunity to stay at home but essential to stay at home, no choice. However, this was not quite the relaxed idea I had envisaged, the tragic circumstances affecting so many were already evident and growing day by day. Uncertainty, fear and anxiety prevailed. How do we cope?

Semi- lockdown began on the 16th March with official lockdown one week later. I found these first two weeks extremely stressful, as businesses were closing down, appointments were cancelled including my MOT, food deliveries were difficult, long queues developed at supermarkets and many items were in short supply. Was this to be the pattern of our lives for the next few weeks or even months? I realised very quickly during this time I needed to limit my exposure to news, morning and evening catch ups were sufficient to know how the situation was developing. I am very lucky to have a newspaper delivered too.
Once the initial panic and anxiety subsided to some extent, a gradual pattern to the days began to emerge. I feel so grateful each day that I no longer work, I have no financial worries and no longer have any elderly relatives dependent upon me. Compared to the many problems so many were experiencing all I had to do was Stay at Home.   

I decided to include a daily walk in my schedule for the day, along with an exercise video, learning a bit more Italian, gardening, and of course housework never goes away. A lot of time has been spent keeping in touch with friends by telephone or messages. I registered with Facebook in order to join morning and evening prayer services.

Prayer has become an increasingly important part of the daily routine, not only morning and/or evening prayer but also informal prayer particularly when out walking. The presence of God has felt a constant and peaceful presence in my life throughout. The words of a hymn which has been a favourite of mine dating back to Methodist Sunday School days ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ sums up so perfectly for me how prayer can help in daily life.

What a friend we have in Jesus 
All our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry
everything to him in prayer
I did and it helped!       
At the end of the first week of lockdown we moved to British Summer Time. The days began to lengthen, morning and evenings gradually became lighter. The wonderful season of spring, full of joy and hope, was beginning to happen irrespective of the turmoil in the world. Lambs appeared in the fields, the trees were starting to bud and the hedgerows were beginning to blossom.

Walking up Birkshaw Bank from home to Vindolanda and the Stanegate Road beyond looking out towards Hadrian’s Wall over such a beautiful deserted landscape the situation seemed a bit unreal. Could this really be happening?  The dichotomy between the beauty of this landscape and the reality of what was happening in our hospitals was difficult to comprehend and to come to terms with, so removed it seemed from the rising number of infections and the ever increasing daily death toll bringing heartache to so many.

I have found it has been an incredibly moving and emotional time, not only because of the illness, sadness and grief so many people have suffered but also the amazing acts of kindness and support people have shown towards one another and particularly to those most in need have frequently moved me to tears. Only this morning an 88year old lady who encouraged by her granddaughter has been doing some daily dance moves. Her spirit was uplifting, her message was ‘appreciate what you have got, do not dwell on what you missing’. Definitely a message to heed.

My godson’s seven year old son has run the equivalent of a marathon and raised £1000 for Gateshead Foodbank. The wonderful strength and determination of Captain Tom Moore walking each day and raising in excess of £32 million for the NHS was a joy to watch. I was sent a YouTube video of the dad and daughter duo Matt and Savanna Shaw singing ‘The Prayer’, a definite to listen to with tissue in hand! The ‘Clap for Carers’ on a Thursday evening is another example, the list could be endless.

Unfortunately, not all has been good, the panic buying at the beginning making it difficult for some people to access the shopping they needed. The image of the exasperated and exhausted critical care nurse trying to shop at the end of her shift is hard to forget.

The dedication and hard work of so many people throughout this crisis has been phenomenal, as the virus moved towards the peak the work of the doctors and nurses and indeed all NHS staff was unrelenting, day after day after day.  The difficult daily decisions made by those in Government, the preparation for the daily Downing Street briefings to the Nation, the changes necessary to the supermarkets for us all to function safely had to be made so rapidly.  The postmen and women, the refuse collectors along with so many others too numerous to mention, have all continued their work throughout.
During the closure of our churches the clergy have had to adapt so rapidly to using technology to provide online services which have been a great comfort particularly to those alone and in isolation.

As we look towards slowly emerging from lockdown we know a lot will be different at least for some time to come.

Easter has come and gone, VE day was not celebrated in the way planned and spring will soon be transitioning into summer. What does the future hold?

In reflecting on life, for me I think it is still a work in progress, I don’t yet feel I have all the answers as to what I want to change and how I achieve change but I would certainly like my time in prayer and walking to continue and to be a more major part of my life. I hope the many acts of kindness and consideration for one another will continue and in Covid 19 terms have an R value greater than 1.