Tag Archives: lockdown

One Year On

This post is part of Streams of Consciousness Saturday

 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.

Spider web in the garden
sailing boats on puddles

Pandemics and Plagues

I read an interesting piece on our church’s website this morning called the Plague of Plagues by Michael Philips. It is quite long but thought provoking and very biblical and it turned my thoughts once more in the direction of viruses and sin.

I am a microbiologist by training and I learned a bit of virology, as well as a bit of bacteriology, mycology, immunology, biochemistry and assorted other -ologies. I have often linked in my mind sin to some kind of infection so let’s play and pretend sin is a virus. Unlike earthly viruses, this one infects the soul as well as the body.

Patients zero were Adam and Eve. The virus quickly spread through mother to child transmission as well as contact with other infected people and now everybody has got it.

The symptoms are obvious. Paul gives a list in 1 Cor 6:9-10. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? He then goes on to list some of the symptoms:- sexual immorality, idolatory, adultery, theft, greed, slander. There are other symptoms and they all fall into the category of ignoring God, His commands, His gifts, His love. Instead people want to do things their own way making themselves into gods.

Society down the ages has done their best to treat the symptoms, just like we might take decongestants for our cold. It will not cure us, only take away the symptoms. The Ten Commandments were a set of laws designed to treat the symptoms in society and model what cured people might look like. Other societies have laws and customs that do the same. With varying degrees of success they try to limit murder, theft, and antisocial behaviour with punishments which deter many from giving in to the tendencies which are symptomatic of the infection.

There is a cure. Think of it as a blood transfusion. …and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7b NIV)

Adapted from a Image by Ahmad Ardity from Pixabay

If we get a blood transfusion with blood that contains antibodies to the virus, we will slowly get better as the virus is neutralised. It doesn’t happen overnight, but slowly we get better. This is a once off treatment. However, to be totally clear of the virus and to prevent re-infection, we need our bodies to make more antibodies. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to enable this process. We become sanctified. Again, it is a slow process and some of the symptoms take a long time to disappear because of damage that they have caused to our bodies and spirits.

John goes on to say in verses 8 and 9, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Imagine if, at the time of your blood transfusion, the doctor gave you a certificate saying you were no longer infectious, even though you might still have a symptom or two. This certificate could give you access to places you could not normally enter as an infected person. You could go through the screening processes with impunity. You could even have access to the Kingdom of Heaven which has a very strict anti-infection policy.

I’m sure trained ministers and pastors would pick holes in my analogy, but I had fun. Hope you did too.

An encouraging verse to leave you with as we all think about viruses, infections, quarantines, lockdowns, prohibitions, economic collapse and the like.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Lockdown Easing

From today South Africa moves from level five to level four lockdown. Pictures flood the news about people out exercising at Emmerentia Dam, Zoo lake, the Promenades in Cape Town and Durban and elsewhere.

I set out to journal the lockdown by posting every day but now I am going to ease off to two or three times a week.

Today’s Lockdownlookup was based on Ephesians 6:18. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” At other times Paul admonishes us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:16)

This sounds impossible but Pastor Richard shared an insight he got from another pastor. Praying at all times in the Spirit is merely inviting the Holy Spirit into the conversations in our minds. We can do that.

Let’s face it, we are all facing a loss of some kind. Loss of control, loss of security, loss of income, loss of loved ones, loss of freedom, loss of our life as it used to be. According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the five emotional stages of loss are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I think we are all at different stages and we need to invite the Holy Spirit into all our internal conversations at whatever stage we are in.

At some stage we need to move on to acceptance. I’m not there yet. I’m still hovering around denial, hoping life will go back to what it used to be.

A very wise quote was sent to me by WhatsApp this morning. I don’t know who originally said it.

Lockdown Day 29 This is the Year

Last night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a stepped lifting of the hard lockdown from 1 May according to the infection rate and the readiness of health services. South Africa has 3 953 confirmed cases of Covid 19 and the death toll is at 75.

2020 will be remembered as:

  1. The year of the mask.
  2. The year we washed our hands, again and again and again………..
  3. The year we got to attend church in our own comfy lounge.
  4. The year the older generation had to learn new things like Zoom and Facebook prayer meetings.
  5. The year we evaluated what’s really important in life. What are essentials?
  6. The year the government stopped infighting and all faced the same direction. The year of unexpected leadership.
  7. The year when communities reached out to each other and more compassion was shown.
  8. The year when the background noise was more birdsong and less traffic.
  9. The year many people remembered how to pray and seek God.
  10. The year that humans realised we were not in control and, actually had never been.
  11. The year of courage and inspiration, of new inventions and new ways of doing life.
  12. The year the inequality divide shifted and some people were so overworked they barely had time to eat and some so bored and unpaid that they spent their time waiting in queues for food parcels, neatly spaced 1 to 2 metres apart.

Yes the world is upside down. But God is not. His promises do not change according to circumstances.

But we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28 NIV)

All things means all things, even a pandemic. God, who knows and understands so much more than our puny little brains can even think or contemplate, can see the good that will result from our present distress and trial. Let’s just trust Him and enjoy the every day gifts that we so often overlook, like sunshine, oxygen, colour, sight and the ability to walk.

Lockdown Day 19 Birthday Picnic

Today was the long-awaited birthday. There was much present opening and celebration. The children have been sleeping in the art studio in their tents and a special breakfast was brought to the birthday-girl’s tent.

At 10.30 we all had tea and cake. The cake was an experimental one that my oldest granddaughter and I adapted from a quick-mix chocolate cake. Instead of adding cocoa, we added food colouring to different batches of batter then spooned in the different colours in a random order to make a marble cake. It was not quite how Granny would have made it but it was proclaimed a success.

More celebration at 12.30 with a birthday picnic with the bunnies. Recently the bunny pair had (another) litter of babies and they are now at the very cute stage. They are let out onto the grass in a mobile enclosure and then put back in the hutch overnight and when they are not supervised. (We have owls in the neighborhood.)

Special treats were crisps and coke-floats! This will be a picnic to remember!

There was another picnic that nobody will ever forget – when Jesus fed over 5 000 people with only five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 14:13-21)

The situation was dire. Time was running out and there were no resources. Philip estimated that it would take six month’s wages to buy enough bread to give everyone just a little bit. (John 6:7 NRSV) The disciples were anxious and fearful. People were looking to them to provide for their needs.

The situation we are in at the moment is dire. Because of the lockdown, businesses have not been able to generate any income. Time is running out and employees haven’t been paid. They are looking to their employers to provide for them but the necessary resources just aren’t there.

Jesus has not changed. He is still the God who provides, Jehovah-Jireh. Let us look to Him and trust Him, no matter how absent our resources seem.

Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV))

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations…” (Psalm 119:89-90 NIV)

Lockdown Day 14 In the Middle of History

Tonight at midnight we will be two thirds of the way through our 21 day lockdown. The question on everybody’s lips is,”Will the lockdown be extended?” On the one hand, the economy has taken a nose dive. We’d already been downgraded to Junk status by two ratings agencies. Businesses are struggling and that has a knock-on effect on employees. More people are out of work. The rand reached R19.25 to the dollar on Sunday from R15.96 on March 10, which was already a high figure. Our president, Cyril Ramaphosa is getting input from experts – scientists, epidemiologists, economists and other countries. On the one hand the economists warn South Africa might never recover economically if the lockdown is extended while the health professionals warn if it is lifted too soon, more deaths than necessary can result.

We, the citizens, can only trust our leaders and pray. Prayer is one thing that is thriving. Our church used to hold prayer meetings once a week at six pm. We went once or twice. There might have been six to ten people. Numbers dwindled until those prayer meetings were stopped. Most churches had a similar experience. Now, on our on-line prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings, we have over forty attendees on Facebook.

There are different interpretations of what is and is not an essential service or item. Alcohol and cigarettes definitely not. Cosmetics? They were blocked off in Clicks when we went shopping. Batteries? My Mom’s geyser isn’t working and my brother’s tester requires a battery that he can’t get. Are plumbers essential services?

So how are things on the ground? Predominately, quiet. The sound of traffic is muted. When we go out shopping for food and essentials, the shops are quiet, many people wearing masks and silently going about their shopping. At home, both my son-in-law and daughter are working from home. This has pro’s and cons. At lunch time they can sit together in the sunshine and enjoy their lunch. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to run an art studio remotely and my daughter’s business has shrunk so she can’t even draw a salary.

I’m coping better than I feared I would – I’m a “go-out” person rather than a “stay-at-home” like my husband. When I first heard the announcement of the lockdown, I disintegrated into a soggy bundle of loss. But now I’m coping well. I seem to have found new energy to bake, experiment with cooking, do craft and science with the grandchildren. So far I know very few people personally who have contracted the virus – only names on prayer lists.

Some of my fears might seem ridiculous.

I’ve been wearing the same clothes (except underwear) for three days at a time on occasion. I haven’t used make-up for a while. My hair badly needs a cut and I can’t go to a hairdresser. Will I become a slob?

What if air-travel becomes obsolete and I never get to see my family in New Zealand or Russia again?

Strangely enough, I am not afraid of the virus itself. In fact I don’t mind contracting it and get it over with. The odds of actually dying from it seem in my favour. I’m mostly healthy. I trust the wonderful immune system God gave me. If it’s Armageddon between human-kind and the virus, I’d back human-kind any day. We are made in the image of God. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

That, of course, reminds me of Psalm 139, one of my favourite psalms. It is helpful to read the whole psalm although I will start at verse 13.

For you created my inmost being; you knot me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay (Cropped)

Lastly, I was inspired by this short video by Trevor Hudson.

Lockdown Day 13 Green Tomatoes and Seeds

A tomato plant grew itself in a bath of soil I used to use for some strawberries that never thrived. When I found the branches drooping, I saved two nearly ripe tomatoes that were lying in the mud and looped up the others. I knew that the two on the ground would be eaten by insects. I didn’t know whether tomatoes ripen if you pick them too early, but I was willing to try. My husband, always trying to be helpful, thought I knew something he didn’t know about tomatoes and picked all of them so we had a whole row of tomatoes on our kitchen window sill. Maybe it was just as well. The plant wilted and died within a week. The gardener cut it down to just a stump and one twig has sprouted.

Some tomatoes did ripen. Some went rotten and got composted but two remained stubbornly pale green. A week ago I was making toasted cheese sandwiches and I thought they would go really nicely with a thin slice of tomato. I cut a thin slice of one of the green tomatoes and tasted it. It tasted all right so I used that one up.

Today I was inspired to cook a special breakfast to compensate for not being able to go out for a bacon and egg breakfast with my husband. I got carried away and added fried banana and fried onions to the bacon and egg. Then I thought about fried tomato and wondered whether the last green tomato would do the job. When I opened it, this is what I saw.


Although the tomato had never ripened, the seeds presumably had and were starting to grow. One sprout popped up like a jack-in-the-box. I don’t know what would have happened if I had just left the tomato. Anyway, I planted it, just as it is in the old bath with the one remaining twig of the parent plant.

This is a parable of lockdown for me. Who knows what seeds God is growing in us, unseen and unknown in a confined space. Our church has been meditating on the Fruit of the Spirit during this lockdown period. Let’s hope that when we are finally released from our bubble, plants of love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control will spring out ready to help heal the world. (Gal5:25)

Lockdown Day Seven, Attitude of Gratitude

Yesterday I made cards with the grandchildren during “Granny Time.” They were meant to be Easter cards, but mine turned out to be a Thank You card, mainly because I had Thank You stickers in my craft box.


It got me to thinking about 1 Thes 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

At the end of 2017 my best friend gave me a journal with pictures to colour for each entry. I already had a quiet time journal so I decided to use this one as a Thanks Diary. Every day I would try to list new things for which I was grateful. I got to 206 before my other journal finished and I had to use my Thanks Diary as my journal.

I think it is a good habit to try to get back into in this topsy turvy time so here are today’s ten items on my thanks list.

  1. That I can walk without pain. Some years ago I suffered from Sciatica and could barely walk ten steps without taking a break.
  2. That I can breathe freely. Normally I am only thankful for this for a short while after I have got over a cold.
  3. For a garden.
  4. For birds that visit my feeding stations.
  5. For eyes to see and contact lenses and reading glasses so I can see in focus.
  6. For a sewing machine so I can help my granddaughter make a dress for her sister’s birthday.
  7. For food in the house and enough energy to be creative in using tinned food so we don’t have to go shopping too often.
  8. For the growth of the seeds I planted two weeks ago. I only have to do the planting. God causes the growing.
  9. That all my children are well and confined in pleasant places.
  10. For our church who have organised weekly prayer meetings and daily devotions.

I’m sure you can all add your ten items to a Thank You list. Please feel free to share. We are not called on to give thanks for all circumstances, but rather in all circumstances.

Thank you, Lord, for all your gifts to us. Amen.

Lockdown Day 6b Learning New Things

One positive consequence of this Lockdown is we are able to learn new things. Those of the older generation, like me, are a little technically challenged. Last night I attempted my first Zoom conference which was attended by members of our fellowship group. I had a few technical difficulties. To start off, we couldn’t hear, then when I disconnected the laptop from the TV we could hear fine, but nobody could hear us. I’m sure by the end of the Lockdown I will be able to access this technology like a pro. (Maybe.)

This morning I found a lovely app on my cell phone which I had downloaded a while ago but hadn’t been able to use. It’s called Bible Lens from You Version. It puts bible verses to cell phone photos in my gallery. I’ve been having fun scrolling through photos to see what verses it’s appended to each. Here are my favourites.

Please let me know in the comments (How do you Like your Coffee?) what new things you are learning.

Lockdown Day 5 Living Online

Now that so many people are in lockdown, life is going online. We have online church every Sunday. My daughter is offering online art classes, my granddaughter is doing online ballet lessons, tonight I am trying out my first online conference call when we meet up with our fellowship group.

This is a photo of our grandchildren doing an online PE lesson, designed by their uncle who is a PE teacher in an international school.

dav

Some things just don’t work online. Like meeting a friend for coffee. Sure I can make my own coffee and she can make her own coffee and we can both sit in front of our laptop or cell phone screens, but it just doesn’t quite do it for me. I can’t give a friend a hug although there are online versions of that too. Our fellowship group used to have supper together before our teaching session and it’s been of the highlights of my week. A video conference doesn’t come close!

One thing that really lends itself well to this situation, however, is communication and social media. I suffer from media overload. Every WhatsApp group I belong to has been prolific in sharing things, to the extent that I’m getting to the stage that when I see an unsolicited video of more then three minutes, I delete it. Just before bed time last night, I received horrific videos of people being abused by soldiers. Not the best content to fill my mind.

We all want to cheer each other up or inspire each other or maybe even inform one another but let’s limit what we allow into our minds. Garbage in, garbage out, the computer people used to say in my day. Let’s be selective and heed Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (NIV)