Gratitude in the Midst of Isolation

Marion Fairbrass

The Blessings of our Time

Tēna koutou katoa.

Yesterday I listened to the announcement that all 70 year olds were asked to stay home, and I wept.  I don’t feel old. I am still working part time. What about my students? How will I cope with the loneliness? What about my income? I have energy and ability to help others.  It’s hard asking others for help. I don’t want to stay home alone for weeks.
I live in a democracy where as long as possible they will not order me to stay home – and I like that.  So I will do what I am asked to do – for my good and the good of my community. 
This morning I lit a candle and looked for a Morning Prayer post on Facebook.  To my delight I found myself viewing a person I know, The Revd Chris Darnell, a family friend from a while ago. He was live-streaming a service from his parish church. I joined in, responding to the prayers and singing the songs. How wonderful.  I have now been given links to a number of places that are going to live stream each week. I can church hop!
In 1955 when I was 8, my family emigrated to NZ, leaving grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends behind.  My parents’ only means of staying in touch with those left behind was by letter - mostly sea mail for a while. My mother was able to connect with her father once a year on Christmas day. There was not much money in our household and toll calls to UK were very expensive.  Now that was isolation.
Years later, my daughter moved to Germany to accept a scholarship to do her Master’s degree. We did have a computer by then and could email.  Phone calls were still very expensive and the internet we had was not really good for sending photos. There was no face time, no easy, inexpensive daily or weekly contact. I felt cut off from her and longed to be there for her and to know how she was. 
Today, I am alone in my home, unable to receive a real hug and sit and chat with a friend in my house. However, in the last 24 hours I have exchanged greetings and virtual hugs with friends and relations across NZ, in Australia, England, Scotland, Solomon Islands, Ireland and Germany.  I have had a face time chat with a dear friend in England; had two phone chats; shared in a service of worship where I could see the people in their church. It made me think of times of physical separation in the past and realise how blessed we are today.
I am so glad to be alive and in isolation in the 21st century rather than in earlier times.  What a blessing all this technology is. I think it will be quite a struggle to switch off from all of this visual and auditory contact and find time to do the projects that I am looking forward to, not to mention the work that I still am able to do.
Kia kaha. Noho ora mai. (Be strong and stay well.)
Marion Fairbrass


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