Corona Virus And The Way


Oh dear! Despite last week's blog we had in the end to postpone the Cornwall Lent Retreat until the Autumn. Travel was forbidden and I was required to self-isolate.

Penny Warren managed to lead our last Open Gate Retreat before cancellations begin.  I drove to Holy Island and we sat two metres from one another. Then I talked with Scott Brennan at Whitehouse - we put two seats six feet outside in the road. We only had to move once for a passing vehicle!  Scott has transferred the soul friends retreat for emerging church leaders to on-line. The bookings have doubled!  So i will now join in this on Zoom.

Today is St. Cuthbert's Day.  His ministry and that of Aidan before him was set back by pandemics like Corona.  They called it the plague.  Brothers at Cuthbert's monastery at Old Melrose were dying, and Cuthbert lay in bed at death's door. Until he was told they'd had an all-night prayer meeting for him to recover. 'Then what am I doing lying in bed?' Cuthbert responded. He got out of the bed,  staggered to a chair and slowly recovered, but walked with a limp for the rest of his life.  Is this a parable for us?  Is God calling us through the Corona pandemic to stop being hell-bent on gain, and to live out of our shared vulnerability.  Has our Way of Life been planned by God as the next step for humankind once we've seen the madness of our Gadarene race to the abyss?

Churches are creating support networks for their neighbourhoods.  On Holy Island Jutta, Open Gate's caterer, is part of an island team who shop on the mainland for the housebound residents and create a food store in the village hall.

Those people who are in self-isolation, whether in California or China,  Italy or UK, have an opportunity to learn from the desert fathers and mothers. Although the lives of these desert and Celtic Christians were anchored in solitude, this released a greater capacity for a friendship that did not depend upon trivia. John Cassian observed that the desert was pervaded by a deep spirit of friendship which was made up of people being joined together in spirit rather than by being in one place. Cassian called this indissoluble bond the ‘common dwelling’. Over time people flocked to these spiritual fathers and mothers and pagan Ireland became 'a land of saints and scholars'.  Watch this happen again.




Posted at 09:33am on 20th March 2020
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