We are on holiday at the moment in Port Elizabeth (Now Gqeberha) visitng family. Yesterday I took my Mom for a pedicure. Her toe nails have calcified and she wasn’t sure the beautician would be able to cut them but it turned out to be a positive experience for her.
We then went out for lunch at a quaint coffee shop called “Little Georgia.” The walls were punctuated with pithy and uplifting sayings. I’ll be posting some of them in the days to come.
These memories are like holiday snaps to hang in the gallery of my mind.
Now that I have retired, my main roles are wife, mother and grandmother. We are particularly blessed in that we live in a cottage on the property of our daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren.
When the lockdown came, I cried. I had seen footage from other countries and I had been keeping an eye on the news since the first Covid 19 was diagnosed in South Africa but I didn’t fully understand the scale of the pandemic.
I cried for my country. I never thought it would come to this. I cried for the poor people who would lose their jobs, I cried for the homeless who would be housed in emergency shelters.
Our laws were strict. Nobody was allowed to leave their homes except for medical emergencies and essential shopping. Malls were closed except for food suppliers.
It was March 2020, about two weeks before the Easter school holidays. The schools would close early and stay closed until further notice.
We were given four days to prepare for lockdown. My husband and I made the most of our four days.
We took our motorhome for a run to charge the battery. We went to the Botanical gardens and enjoyed walking around in the gardens before we were locked down when we wouldn’t be able to walk outside our house.
We did our slightly bigger than normal grocery shop on Tuesday but I forgot to get stock cubes to make butternut soup, although I did buy a big bag of butternuts.
I went to Checkers. It was full to bursting. Queues for the tills stretched all the way down the aisles. The ten-items-only queue snaked across the front of the isles and down the last isle. As I looked around for maybe the shortest queue, a black lady smiled at me and offered that I could go ahead of her in the ten-items-only line. That was my first glimpse of glory. An ordinary housewife, having already waited for who knows how long, being kind to a stranger. She was about twentieth from the till so I thanked her but decided I could probably do without stock cubes. That small gesture brought a lightness to my step.
Perhaps that set the tone for my lockdown. I determined to see the glimpses of glory, to keep my eyes open to the beauty, the fun. These ranged from dew drops on a spiderweb to the family making a campfire from the chopped down branch.
My son-in-law worked from home so he got to see the children more during the day. We did fun things together. We cleaned out the store room and found three tents. For the rest of the lockdown the children camped int the art studio which unfortunately had to be closed.
We all learned many things. I had never heard of Zoom before. The children learned to do on-line schooling and learned to use Google Classroom.
As a family, we grew closer. Once the hard lockdown had been lifted, I missed certain aspects of it – the sense of community where we contacted neighbours to find out how they were doing, the sense of peace where rush hour was bird song not traffic noise, the ability to do online church together.
So I learned, I grew, I appreciated little things. The crisis is not over. We are expecting a third wave of the virus any day. We still cannot visit our family in New Zealand. Meanwhile may I make the most of every day and continue to look for glimpses of glory.
Jacob wrestled with God through the night (Genesis 32:24.) God touched his hip and it was wrenched. His name was changed. “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”(28)
For the rest of his life Jacob walked with a limp. He had to change his behaviour and live with it. Perhaps he carved himself a walking stick. Perhaps his family had to help him sit down and rise. Life would never be the same again. He had to live with a new normal.
My six-year-old granddaughter has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. After a week’s stay in hospital she now has to monitor her blood sugar carefully, watch what she eats and always be aware of her condition. Life will never be the same again for her or her family. Habits and routines have to change. It’s something they need to learn to live with. A new normal.
We all have something that has changed our lives and we now have to live with a new normal. It might be a medical condition, loss of a loved one, change in financial circumstances. There are many kinds of losses from bereavement to job loss to displacement. We need to grieve our loss appropriately and then learn to live with it.
Life is not a fairy tale with a happily ever after ending. However, it is a story. It is our story and the decisions and actions we choose today influence the end. We can choose to be happy, even while we live with the new normal.
Although we might have to live with it, we don’t have to do it on our own. Paul tells us: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Lord please give me:
The gratitude to appreciate all the good things in my life, The attitude of trust to know that You will help me through my challenges, griefs and losses, and the latitude to look around and notice others who might need my help in learning to live with their new normal. Amen.
The Gideons International is an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments.
While we are often recognized for our work with hotels, we also place and distribute Scriptures in strategic locations so they are available to those who want them, as well as to those who may not know they need them.
The first school term is the time to distribute testaments to the Grade 8’s at all the schools in our area. Because of the Covid restrictions, instead of visiting schools, addressing the learners and handing out testaments individually to those who are willing to accept them, my husband has to drop boxes of testaments at the schools for them to distribute.
In the same way, the ladies used to visit clinics and doctors’ rooms and hand out testaments to the medical staff. We can’t do that anymore. Recently I left a box of testaments at the security station of the Windsor clinic.
Paul refers to the Word of God as The Sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:17)
The Bible says “…the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
It occurred to me that we are arms dealers. We put swords in the hands of teenagers, we arm nurses, doctors, policemen, even prisoners. How outrageous! How daring! How dangerous! If opposition comes, it is not that surprising. However, in South Africa, most people we come across are happy to receive their weapon. They value the Word of God and treasure it.
On Sunday we joined Dare to Love at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg. It is the largest hospital in South Africa. We distributed over a thousand gift packs containing a Gideon’s testament, a pen, biscuits, chocolates and other goodies. When those ran out, we distributed packs containing the goodies and a Gospel of John booklet. This was meant as a gesture of appreciation to the heroes who serve on the front line.
It was an exciting morning. We are honoured to be allowed to do this work.
Father, thank you for the Bible, the Sword of the Spirit. Teach me to handle it aright. You know that many of the Gideon members are getting old and even dying. Please send new, younger members to help us with this work of distributing Your Word. Amen.