I am finding this season of closure and isolation due to the threat of the current pandemic quite disheartening. It seems to me that every morning there are greater levels of precautionary actions being imposed on us by government and organisations alike, only to have these changed and increased by the end of the day. As a kinaesthetic extrovert I am feeling quite traumatised by these restrictions, while the ‘keep your hands off me’ introverts are visibly doing a happy dance and hoping this is the new normal!
I received quite a blow in the past few days. I am fortunate enough to have been invited to participate in a leadership development course that meets for 3 intensive learning weeks spread throughout a 10 month period. Our first gathering was in November 2019 and the benefit I received from this exposure to the materials provided had a significant and life-changing impact on my personal and professional life. The next of our gatherings was due to start this coming Sunday and I was very much looking forward to this next chapter.
I started feeling a little uncertain about whether it would be able to continue a few days ago. It is a domestic conference of less than 30 people so the prospects were good. I breathed a sigh of relief when I received an email on Monday afternoon to say that we were still going ahead with our Intensive. We would need to ensure we abided by the social isolation protocols, but they were minor alterations to be made for the greater benefit.
As Tuesday progressed I kept getting this sinking feeling that sometime soon we would receive a different message and sure enough, just on 24 hours after the previous email we were informed that our March gathering would be postponed for 6 months. While it is a better outcome than being cancelled altogether the sense of loss I felt was significant. Deep down I knew it was coming. Deep down I knew it was for the best. That didn’t stop the overwhelming sense of disappointment I felt. This conference was a beacon of hope for me that had somehow been snuffed out.
As I have wrestled with what this means for me and my mental and spiritual health I am drawn to the Easter story, and especially the disciples and what they must have been feeling in the days leading up to and immediately after Jesus’ death. To watch as the world that they were so comfortable with change so dramatically and in such a reasonably short period of time feels eerily similar to what I have faced. They were enjoying the prospect of a ‘kingdom’ led by this dynamic teacher and preacher and in fact celebrated with what seemed like the whole world as he entered into Jerusalem. They shared a precious Passover meal together before adjourning to a familiar garden for prayer and reflection only for it all to go wrong.
The soldiers descended and arrested Jesus, armed and ready for a fight. He was tried and convicted in a closed night time court hearing. The same crowd that was cheering for him a week earlier were equally vocal calling for his blood. Before it could get better Jesus was paraded through the streets and mocked before being brutally nailed to some planks of wood in the form of a cross. And then he died. All this in under 24 hours.
Their 24 hour change in direction helps give me a little more perspective about mine! The best part of their story, however, is that it doesn’t end there. Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to them, and others, over multiple days before returning to Heaven. That is the whole message of Easter. When it appeared that all was lost, hope survived. In fact, it defeated the darkness. I choose to hold on to this truth in these dark days as well.
Hope will survive.