In recent weeks we’ve been hit by the loss of a number of good friends. The restrictions and the uncertainty of the pandemic have kept us from properly comforting one another; and the lack of much good news has meant that we’ve suffered through what Professor Chris Whitty described as “the most dangerous time”.
Finding hope when there is little hope to be found takes a special dedication from people of faith. For those of no faith, finding hope is next to impossible; but for those of us who believe that the end of things is a triumphant celebration rather than an ignominious tragedy, hope is always at hand.
Many of you are reporting having had your first vaccine dose; and none I know have reported any problems with it. This will make a difference in the medium term. We’ll have to wait a bit before we find out whether we will need this vaccine added to the annual flu jabs that many of us have. But in the short term, the vaccinations will reduce the risk of us losing more friends to this despicable virus. What it won’t do is remove the restrictions and, even if you have had your vaccine, you will still need to wear your mask, stay at home and keep your distance, even from those you love most, for a while yet to come.
Last March, at around the same time as the virus appeared, something vanished from my back garden. It’s a shame when it goes because I quite like it. I really struggle with the dark days of winter and really look forward to the spring, so when they appear each January it really cheers me up. I’m writing of course of snowdrops. They appear when the winter is at its darkest and coldest, and they disappear each March, the bulbs hiding, dormant, beneath the lush summer growth until the new year dawns.
The snowdrops, heralds of the new growth and rejuvenation of spring, have been hiding since the time we began taking measures against the virus pandemic. They’re back now, small and fragile but as in every year, holding out the hopeful promise of spring. There will still be frosts and perhaps a storm or two before they’re finished, but spring is on the way.
Although the days are dark, and there’s still the chance of more COVID frosts and storms, spring is coming. Spring will not diminish the harshness of the winter, but it holds out a sign of hope for those who have faith.
In our prayers we make a testimony to hope. We give thanks for those we have loved and lost through the winter. We give thanks for the skills and insight of scientists who have developed medications and vaccines which will melt the fears of the frozen. We pray for the medics who care for the sick; and we rejoice that, through it all, our God has been with us. For without the Lord, our hope is in vain; but our sure faith is that he hears and answers our prayers.
As St Paul taught,
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer
Let each spring flower you see become an occasion for thanksgiving and hopefulness in you.
With Every Blessing