Now and again, ever since Easter, a kangaroo has been spending time in our back garden. It’s a big eastern grey and I have no idea where he or she spends the rest of the time. It looks quite comfortable sprawled across the weed that from a distance could pass for grass, until I come outside when it gets up, has a look and decides that I’m not a threat. One of my small joys.
Talking of threats, I began this post with my kangaroo story because after a break of several months I did not want to start with the threat that has become part of our lives. Wherever you live, whether you are in lockdown like me or free to move around but keeping your distance all the same, it’s something we share – the fear, boredom, frustration, insecurity, sorrow, insecurity and vulnerability that comes with Covid-19.
I can’t recall a time when I’ve felt more hopeless. Personally, it’s not my pain, but it’s a pain that seems to have the whole world in its grip. The pandemic is still spreading all over the world. Parents working from home, or not able to work at all, their children struggling with emotions that lock-down unlocks. One after the other there are fires, floods and earthquake. I cannot begin to imagine the hopelessness of a situation that leaves you homeless and maybe destitute.
The dreams of thousands of Afghanistan women and girls have been shattered, the citizens of Hong Kong who face an undemocratic future, while here in parts of Australia Year 12s and Grade 6 students have lost the anticipation that usually accompanies the celebration of the rites of passage that mark the end of an important stage of life.
In so-called normal times I can hide from all that – visiting friends, family birthdays, dressing up for dinner at a restaurant, a stage play, a picnic a or a trip to touristy country town, shopping, a barbeque. Escapism it’s called. Now I can’t get away from the tragedy that dominates the daily bulletins and news broadcasts. The pain of the world keeps sneaking into my everyday and I can’t fix any of it.
It’s little things that feed my hope. Like a sunny morning, a cheery message popping up on my phone, the wattle trees that punctuate the road to the nearest supermarket, reading another chapter of Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout, my newest favourite novelist. The only person they are fixing is m, but I need compassion too.
I’m not sure about the theological veracity of what I’m going to say next, but it seems to me that by acknowledging my inability to do anything practical to alleviate the pain and suffering that touches me, that’s prayer. It doesn’t need words put around it. It’s a living- out of the communion of saints that we say we believe in every time we parrot the Creed. Compassion is like sound waves, only more so. It reaches out and in to where and when it is needed. I know, that’s not scientific, but God-stuff overrides all that! I hope.