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The Hope of Easter

There have been some very funny videos, pictures and suggestions doing the rounds this week, as we understandably attempt to use laughter to deal with the crisis we are facing.  I enjoyed the American dad doing the mathematical calculations about how most people now have enough toilet roll to last for several years, which I can verify from personal experience because my initial worries about how fast this product is consumed have turned out to be way wide of the mark.

I enjoyed the Israeli mum ranting in her car about the impact of home schooling on her family’s life, Nicola Sturgeon doing a Scottish ladette impression to tell her girlfriends that the trip to Torremolinos was cancelled and the family using thongs as facemasks while realising that grandma’s droopy knickers would not be as effective.

My favourite, however, was the Ladybird Book of COVID-19, which made me howl with laughter as it described the world in various cases of deterioration and breakdown, from sniffing empty alcohol bottles just for the fumes, deep-cleaning kittens and realising just how irritating your partner’s sniffing can be when you are trapped in a confined space with them for a long time.  A sample page says: ‘Mark is working from home while his son’s school is closed.  By the end of the week he will have given his son responsibility for administering his firm’s accounts department, while Mark takes over drawing trees.’

Humour is essential just now, of course, and so is hope, which came to my phone via a message from a teacher in China.  You may have seen it already, but I think it is worth reproducing in full here because it has so many messages that resonate.

‘We are just finishing out seventh week of remote learning, seven weeks of being mainly housebound and seven weeks of uncertainty.  We are healthy, we are happy and we are humbled.  We are allowed to move around freely now with a green QR code that we show when we get our temperature taken.  You get your temperature taken everywhere and it’s just become part of the routine.  Most restaurants and shopping centres are now open and life is coming back to our city.  As we watch the rest of the world begin their time inside, here are some of my reflections on the last seven weeks:

‘1. Accept that you have no control over the situation.  Let go of any thoughts of trying to plan too much for the next month or two.  Things change so fast.  Don’t be angry and annoyed at the system.  Anxiety goes down and you make the best of the situation, whatever that might be for you.  Accept that this is what it is and things will get easier.

‘2. Try not to listen to, read or watch too much media.  It WILL drive you crazy.  There is a thing called too much!

‘3. The sense of community I have felt during this time is incredible.  I could choose who I wanted to spend my energy on, who I wanted to call, message and connect with, and I have found the quality of my relationships has improved.

‘4. Appreciate the enforced downtime.  When do you ever have time like this?  I will miss it when we go back to the fast-paced speed of the ‘real world’.

‘5. Time goes fast.  I still haven’t picked up the ukulele I planned to learn and there are box set TV shows I haven’t watched yet.

‘6. As a teacher, the relationships I have built with my students have only continued to grow.  I have loved seeing how independent they are, filming themselves to respond to tasks while also learning essential life skills such as balance, risk-taking and problem-solving, that even we as adults are still learning.

‘7. You learn to appreciate the little things like sunshine through the window, flowers blossoming and now being able to enjoy a coffee in a café.

‘To those just beginning this journey, you will get through it.  Listen to what you are told, follow the rules and look out for each other.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.’

Today was supposed to be the end of term.  I would not have been at school because I was going on the battlefields trip, but that all seems very distant now.  Had I been there to talk to the pupils and staff, I would have tried again to explain the complexities of the meaning of Easter.

For those of Christian faith, it is the most important time of the year, with its focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus, which gives hope for life after death.  For those who do not believe, it is a time of rebirth in a different way, as winter gives way to spring, the daffodils bloom and eggs, albeit now chocolate ones, symbolise new life.

It will be a while before our lives as we used to know them will be reborn, and many will suffer dreadfully along the way.  But the end will come and, as the Chinese teacher’s words show us, there are plenty of positive experiences for us to share while we wait for our own Easter rebirth, even if its timing this year will be very unusual.

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