• Leonie Lewis

The new normal?

Like so many, I too personally suffered during lock-down, my father in law passed away, alone, in a COVID-19 ward in hospital. The NHS were wonderful, we buried him with only immediate family mourners and my husband, and his sister sat Shiva, the week of mourning, alone in their own homes, with no-one to share their grief.

So, I'm aware of the trauma, sorrow and suffering caused by COVID-19, the short, medium, and long term, the physical, mental and financial horrors: I am increasingly witnessing how this dreadful and scary pandemic has created vast chasms in so many lives.

Having retired just over a year ago and having become a consultant, I was beginning to create a structure and a more organised work pattern for myself. I was occupied doing many things at the same time including my voluntary and trustee roles and I was enjoying the variety of work opportunities being presented to me.

I was, dare I say it, even earning a fairly regular income and then COVID-19 happened, creating for me and others, sadness, desperation, fear and worry and a new normal.

And now I am adjusting to this new normal.

I don't know when and if things will return to how they were just a few months ago, Things are different for most of us, not always better and for many so much worse. Yet EVEN during the pandemic there are lessons I hope will remain.

These last few months, particularly since the lock-down have enabled me to truly appreciate so many things I have previously taken for granted: the attitude of gratitude from so many, the natural beauty of my local area, the birdsong, the slower pace of life and focused meetings via zoom providing the opportunity to see many people at one time and at one place, the coming together of minds and ideas, the sharing of a common good, and the importance and necessity of faith communities.

I do not miss the endless and often too long face to face meetings, where I have to look attentive and appear interested; I now simply turn off my video screen and tune in and or out as necessary!

The use of free timed zoom meetings means that for many of us we are forced to be more focused on the business in hand, the content and actions, and this really works for me.

Of course, I can`t wait to see and hold my grandchildren or have a coffee and a meal with friends and family, or go out to see a film, and to sit inside my synagogue building, praying with my community, but I can honestly say, lock-down has presented me with several positives that I am eager to retain when it is over ..positives that I know others too have noticed.

  • I’m now more in touch with friends and family via social media, more than ever before. It’s not the same but it’s OK

  • I’m volunteering with my community to call members, just to say hello

  • I’m cooking daily meals from seasonal produce

  • I’m using online services for so many things and have stopped the countless unnecessary car trips to shops

  • I’m walking every day, often 4-5 miles

  • I’m reading more and watching TV less

  • I’m taking pictures, every day, on my phone of the natural beauty, flora and greenery

  • I’m speaking to people one to one which I realise is more meaningful for me as conversations are more directed.

What I do know, is that Lock down is preparing and alerting me to a scenario where I'm anticipating a new normal

Giles Coren made me think further on this. In his feature in the Times: The luxury of anticipation, he suggests that during Covid, we are appreciating simple gestures more and looking forward to rather mundane pleasures that previously had been taken for granted, e.g. a pizza delivery or an online shopping order or a family zoom call; he suggests that the end of lock down might be the time when our exciting anticipation of its finish is more about the anticipation itself than the coming out of the lock-down. He notes that philosophers suggest that we comprehend our lives on the basis of knowing what has happened before, that the past is a predictor of the future. But he says, to be certain of what is coming, is a luxury beyond compare.

We must all begin to hope and pray for a better future, we cannot really anticipate it, because we don't know what it is. It will be a new normal and we will all need adjust to it.

Let's work together to ensure that so many positive aspects remain, that the charity and faith sectors receive continued additional resource, that volunteers are valued and lauded, that we cherish our NHS, that we support the thousands hurting financially and those still grieving and we demonstrate that what’s important are those many things we all take for granted.

For organisations offering advice and support, legal, social welfare, and Financial contact paperweight.org.uk for matters appertaining a range of faith issues and concerns contact. info@faithsforum4london.org

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