Sunday, 16 May 2021

Benefits of life in challenging times

MANY of our schools have just opened their doors for the beginning of the autumn term.

There will be all the usual changes — a new intake, other pupils entering new year groups and new members of staff joining.

These changes occur at the start of every new academic year but this year will be most unusual as the schools must accommodate all the new requirements under the Coronavirus Act 2020. Social distancing, bubbles, face coverings, handwashing, to name but a few of the practices that children and teachers will need to adhere to.

The past six months have caused more change, and anxiety, within our nation as a whole than has been seen for generations.

As I was preparing to write this, I read through my previous Thought for the Week, which was published in January. Little did I think, when writing about being prepared for all that 2020 might bring, of all the uncertainties that would come our way.

So much has been whipped from under our feet. Have all the changes left us free-falling or have we found ourselves to be standing on that which is immovable?

One of the most incredible things about human nature is our ability to adapt to change. And, despite the huge cost to so many over these months, as a nation we are adapting to the “new normal”.

People are appreciating the opportunities that working from home brings, the benefits of increased exercise are being felt and within many of our local communities we have got to know our neighbours better. These have all been real positives and I hope we will continue to value and develop them over the coming months.

Likewise, the uncertainties have also caused people to ask again those big life questions: Why are we here? What is the purpose of my existence? Does God exist? Is there a life after death?

Often only philosophers delve into such matters, with most of us too busy in our everyday existence to give them any time. Yet when faced with our own mortality, such as has happened over the past few months, suddenly these things become important.

However, as we adapt to a new normal, these questions can begin to fade away, even though the answers to them have the potential to change our lives for the good, both in the present as well as for eternity.

Our children and young people are back to school, albeit under very unusual circumstances. And they will learn all manner of things that will help to prepare them for life.

But it is only in finding answers to life’s big questions that we will ever be genuinely prepared for life. Jesus of Nazareth, who walked on the face of this earth some 2,000 years ago, once said: “I have come that [people] may have life, and have it to the full.”

Under today’s very unusual circumstances, will we seek to learn what will prepare us for that life?

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