It is still January as I write this but I have already had the chance to enjoy the cold beauty of white snow-clad Derby Dales whilst on my daily walk around Tideswell. I am of course ‘staying at home, snug and warm in my curate’s house, for the vast majority of the time. I know I am so very blessed to have a warm home, even if I can’t share this with people as I might wish. Many in the UK do not have the money to pay for enough heating or food; others are facing homelessness. </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">I wonder if you made any New Year resolutions and, if so, how you are doing? I have found my most successful resolution is not to make any resolutions 😊. During February we start the season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday (17</span><sup>th</sup><span style="font-size: 1rem;"> February this year), a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. Reflection on recent actions and thoughts is a useful way to learn for the future, and something that perhaps in the Western world at least, we have fallen out of the practice of doing.</span>
Reflecting on the last year, I wonder if the events of the last 12 months has brought a realisation of the interconnectedness of society. If I stockpile toilet paper, then the supply chain can’t keep up and there won’t be any for you to buy. If I forget to follow the stay safe mantra – hands, face, space- then even if I don’t have any symptoms, I may pass on the COVID19 virus to one or more people and they may pass it on until it ends in the death of another person. However there is also the other side of our interconnectedness for which we can be thankful – the efforts of nurses, doctors and front line medical staff and carers going above and beyond, working long shifts, risking their own health. There is the neighbour getting shopping for the housebound next door, the phone networks organised to reach out to isolated people, the teachers coping with face-to-face school for key worker children whilst writing online lessons for the many others stuck at home.
I read in a recent article that the 19<sup>th</sup> century English poet John Clare wrote, ‘If life has a second edition, how I would correct the proofs’. Whilst we may nearly all agree with that sentiment, we cannot turn time backwards. We cannot, for example, edit out the virus from 2020, much as we would wish it. However, though we don’t have more than one life in this world, as Christians we live in the assured hope of eternal life. As we read in John’s gospel, ‘those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.’ I don’t mean that this life is an ‘evacuation plan’ for the next world. We are called to live with the values of the Kingdom of God ‘on earth, as in heaven’. We can attempt this content in the knowledge that we are each and every one cradled in the love of God. He knows that we will make mistakes, and forgives us. He is with us in solidarity in our suffering and in our joys. <span style="font-size: 1rem;">So as we start our new year and a new season, my prayer is that individually and as a society we will reflect on life and perhaps do some editing. Deleting selfishness - taking action to work towards human dignity for all people (in the UK and beyond) and treating our natural world with respect. And, to continue with the editing metaphor, putting in bold all the goodness manifested around us, and giving thanks to God for it. All that we have is from God. </span><span style="font-size: 1rem;">May peace be with you, </span>Nicola