Faith Focus: Never forget lessons of lockdown

Imogen de la Bere

Imogen de la Bere - Credit: Archant

Our regular faith column looks at current affairs from a religious perspective.

When you read or hear an account from a front-line NHS worker, a doctor or nurse, of how their COVID-19-caring days go, it’s impossible not to feel a profound sense of uselessness. On the one hand, people like me sitting around comfortably, occasionally doing a circuit of the garden and coughing; while on the other dedicated are people risking their lives every day in 12-hour stretches from hell, to save the lives of strangers, or ease them from this life.

Most people, I suspect, even if they don’t believe in a traditional God, or any God at all, will find themselves praying at this time, without any clear idea of why. They will pray for the doctors and nurses and care-workers and ambulance drivers.

We do it because we haven’t got any other way of expressing to the universe our love and admiration. I personally make a point of telling those I know at the frontline that I am praying for them every day. They are not all believers, but they take comfort from the personal expression of support.

Even as a lifelong Christian, I’ve never been clear how prayer works. But I know we can’t not do it and we know from experience what a comfort it is. A few nights ago, when I was at my lowest ebb, in the middle of the night, I heard my phone ting.

When a phone tings in the middle of the night, it’s always New Zealand and generally bad news. I was too sick to read the message but I saw it was from my sister and I knew she was praying for me. The dark night was lightened; I felt a pillow of love under my head.

But there’s another thing you can do during this period of idleness. Make a solemn promise with yourself never to forget. Never to forget what we have learnt about the plight of the poor, prisoners, the shut-ins and lonely. We’re aware right now of how desperate are the lives of so many, and volunteers are reaching out. But will we remember? We must remember, or all this suffering will have been in vain.

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Imogen de la Bere is a New Zealand writer, living in St Albans.