Ancient Wisdom for the ‘New Normal’

With six hours ALONE ahead of me, for the first time in five-and-a-half months, can you guess what I did? Six hours of Britpop as a soundtrack to three hours of dancing around the house cleaning! (In case you’re wondering about the missing three hours, I stopped at 12 to start this!). If anyone had told me to clean, I wouldn’t have done it, but I felt like it.

Normally, I do the essentials. I don’t get round to dusting, windowsills or windows. That’s a kind of dirt I don’t really see. But today, I was feeling rather elated that I am living in the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt I could attempt something I’ve always failed at – the windows. I racked my brain for nuggets of wisdom as to the best way to go about it and quickly discarded the microfibre cloth, rooting instead through the recycling for a newspaper to use to buff the white vinegar. I felt like a domestic goddess and grinned at the clear view in front of me. I know for most of you this is not rocket science, but the cynic in me takes time to truly believe that old ways, wise words, and ancient wisdom, trump new-fangled products and techniques.

Over lockdown, I’ve discovered that many of the wise words of friends and mentors were true:

Thanks, Carolynn and Esther – bike riding is fun! I didn’t want to hear it three years ago when I was still scared of falling off. But after finding a bike for £20, I didn’t have anything to lose if I hated it, and I dared myself to try it again, overcoming my fear of failure.

Thanks, Mum –  there is plenty of joy to be had on a long walk around the ‘big block’ (and I no longer need a Creme egg as a reward at the end). I used to think we needed to find a special location, with a worthwhile destination. I now realise that here is as good as anywhere, and it’s fine if it’s not circular or picturesque. 

And thanks, Pat, for waxing lyrical of the joys that come from a good window-clean! I didn’t want to hear it when I was struggling simply to clean off the Weetabix glue before dinner. But today I was glad I’d stored your advice in my memory.

All this got me thinking about how we’ll never be the same after this pandemic. Today, I listened to all the familiar words of my favourite songs from a 2020 perspective. Those happy-go-lucky songs were written long before the threat of COVID-19,  when my only real concern was whether I would be able to sneak upstairs during Sunday tea, to change the tape over after 45 minutes, so I didn’t miss any of the Top 40.  I felt sad for today’s kids, that their concerns involve masks, social distancing, hand gel and restricted movement around school.  I wonder how popular culture will change as a result of the events, fears, loses and isolation of the past six months.  The fact that the Coke advert I’ve just seen promotes togetherness rather than sex-appeal, is surely a good thing.

It’s interesting to me that just before lockdown, there seemed to be a real theme running through new releases in Christian books.  You might have read John Mark Comer’s The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World, published in October 2019.  Just arrived through my letterbox, John Eldridge’s Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad, was published in February 2020.  Before many of us were forced to slow down and find pleasure in simple things, these authors were persuading us to do so.  Each author takes ancient wisdom and presents it at the time we need to hear it.  Some of the chapter headings in Eldridge’s book include kindness towards ourselves, get outside, the gifts of memory, and the simple daily things.  Whether you act on it now, or whether you store it away until you’re out of the Weetabix glue stage, you won’t want to miss the advice included in these books.

God has been guiding us to live a life of sacrifice, love, generosity, grace, fullness, and praise, for thousands of years.  His book of ancient wisdom doesn’t get old, and it is the only piece of writing that was written with full awareness of the past, the present and the future.  Isn’t that amazing?  We can read the Scriptures from the perspective of a pandemic, yet not one word is out-of-date, or inappropriate.  Each story points towards the Light – the Son, who came to rescue us in this mad world.  

Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son. As we emerge from this period of lockdown – whether you have worked tirelessly to serve others, whether you have spent quality time with God, whether you feel you have spent too long binge-watching box sets and lazing around – remember that Father God is watching and waiting for you to return home.  

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we have to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Luke 15: 22-32

How are you doing in sharing the story of Jesus in the story of your life?  Here at Activate, we’re working on this theme for our March 2021 weekend away: The Narrative Revealed. We’ll be looking at the Parables, discussing the stories, and sharing testimonies in light of recent months.  I can’t wait.

As for me and my windows, maybe the sun will come out, and I’ll be able to see how well I’ve buffed them.  I’ve run out of time to dust, so I’ll remember my friend Christine’s wisdom and spray a bit of polish in the air!

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