Rebecca Rickaby, PCC Secretary reflects on the changing world from March 2020.
Well the call came at the end of March that I was being furloughed before Easter. At which point I ran the gamut of a whole range of emotions. Relief I had a job versus anxiety of thinking I wouldn’t have a job to go back to; anticipation of being able to get on and do some large projects over a sensible amount of time instead of cramming everything into a weekend and starting the working week tired. Time to think about what really matters in life. Guilt at the fact I was being paid to stay at home while my colleagues were struggling with extra work. Isolation as no one from the office called me (I later found out that they were told not to so as to abide by the furlough regulations). A very strange time of not wanting to get close to people and knowing that I was limited as to where I could travel.
So in my 60th year which had so much planned – theatre trips, Isle of Wight Festival, a champagne tea at Highgrove with a group of 14 friends, going to the States for 2 weeks in November – all cancelled. An un-birthday year so technically I am still 59.
So how did I cope?
I decided from the start that as this was not a holiday I had to keep to the work routine so the alarm still went off at 6am but instead of going to work I went out for a walk which got me up and also avoided people at that early hour. I had put my bicycle into the workshop for a service but then Figgures closed. Fortunately, I managed to retrieve my bicycle – or rather my brother did, and he serviced it for me. I couldn’t play racquetball so I did my best to keep fit and sane by walking and bike riding and thank goodness for technology when my pilates teacher put sessions on Zoom! I discovered new walks round Pennington and into Lymington and enjoyed the sea wall on the bike.
The second thing I did was sort out those projects. The list was long so after about 3 parings down it come to roughly 5 things.
- Paint the outside of the 2 remaining sheds in my garden – one a piano / book room about 10ft x 12ft and the other a small storage shed next to it.
- Extend my raspberry patch with a flower bed at the end with a path through the middle so I could get to the raspberries more easily.
- Finish off a friend’s needlework with some gold thread work and cut the mount for the frame she had
- Cut a small access into the gravelled area at the back of the house instead of squeezing round the water butts.
- Gravel round my raised beds and the new rockery
- Finally, do my filing!!
Amazingly I managed all of the above and the weather was undoubtedly kind to allow the painting to be done over two weeks which meant that I did not injure my shoulder as I had done previously with painting the other 3 sheds in the garden.
All the while I was conscious that I had space. I was and am so blessed with my garden but it was the silence in the streets that got to me. No kids playing and reduced movement of cars. I really felt for those families in flats with restless children and how they found ways of coping.
The one thing that kept the rhythm to the week was the fact that St Marks and St Thomas had got together and were able to stream a service online at 9 30am every Sunday followed by coffee morning chat. That was a huge anchor. It told me what day it was instead of all days becoming one. It gave me a connection with others. Through the live chat I could see who was joining me. It gave me my own personal service, directed at me. Some of those services were quite emotional and I felt that I was not alone for that one hour. That was my boat in these very strange times.
The coffee morning chat over Zoom was and still is fun, supportive and informative. Only last Sunday Sharon told/showed Gervaise how to enlarge a dress making pattern, where to source an aid to help put on socks when you can’t bend down and then towards the end my shout of glee as I put the last stitch into a large cross stitch piece I had started almost 10 years ago. A warm supportive space where anxieties are shared and support offered. Even though we pysically can’t be close we are there for each other.
Then in June the call came to go back to work – only 2 days notice. I was so glad I had kept to that 6am alarm clock. It was back to work but working from home which did not alleviate the isolation and the initial anxiety of feeling that my colleagues would be angry dealing with me as I had done nothing for over 2 months. That turned out to be not the case fortunately, but I have heard in other sectors it is. Emotions are heightened in these strange times and the smallest things turn into the most humungous problem, until you pick up the phone and talk/text it through with someone which manages to bring you back down to earth.
Time is another strange thing. They say that you can’t manufacture time but now that I no longer spend up to 2 hours in a car 5 days a week commuting to Southampton, I have managed to do just that. My house is more in order (still untidy) and I find that I have a proper “week end”. Time has slowed – well for me at least – I have time to relax. I have time to potter. I have time to look into things that interest me and might improve my mood/outlook/relationships. I have time to sit down and binge watch 5 or 6 episodes of Father Brown on a Saturday afternoon without feeling I should be doing something useful. I actually have time to wonder “what should I do now?” a bit like “are we there yet?”
Now with restrictions easing, anxieties have escalated in a different way. Nothing is how it should be even though it is still familiar. Everything seems out of sync. Another round of adapting to what we can and can’t do.
Then comes the acceptance that there will be a new “normal”, the old normal is no longer fit for purpose and we are evolving on to a different way of doing things. I recently read a daily meditation by Henri J M Nouwen from a book of his collected works called “You are the Beloved” which I think is appropriate for this season.
“Survival depends on mobility” the Spirit persistently says
God’s message of Love is sent into the world in human envelopes
And what surprises those envelopes can contain and how they enrich our lives for without them I for one would be in a much worse place than I am now. Still not out of the mire, but at least one hand is on the bank catching my breath, waiting patiently for the next helping hand as my other hand is stretched out behind me to help those that are stuck further in.