And so here we are. Caught up in a living nightmare that we never imagined, even in our worst dreams. Coronavirus, a word that now spreads fear among every sector of our community. A word that has changed our lives as we know it.
I have sat pondering this life changing event over the last few weeks, trying to compute in my fuddled brain, just exactly what is going on in the world right now. My anxious mind flits from one worry to another, never quite easing the constant panic that I feel on a continuous basis. I wake up every morning and for a split second the world feels normal and then I remember - the nightmare is real and increasing its intensity every second of every day.
Looking for positives in my life, I search for the little things that bring me hope. A small green shoot in my favourite plant that appears overnight makes me smile. The warm sun on my face as I take my once a day walk with my dog George. The appearance of bees as they wake up, triggered by the warming weather, making themselves busy as they fly round looking for interesting flowers to land on. It’s the little things, I say to myself, as I suddenly become aware of ‘little things’ I had never noticed before.
Then I realise that life will never be the same again and somehow this comforts me. Like the fresh green shoots, I see this difficult time as a catalyst for new growth and new beginnings. During this period of lockdown I see many people evaluating their own life and assessing just what is truly important to them. Careers, spirituality, relationships, finances and even where we choose to live, will all come under close scrutiny by many of us over the next few months.
And while there is so much negativity and fear surrounding our lives right now, there is also the prospect of hope for the future. Here in Knaresborough I have seen the community coming together with one common purpose – to help each other through a difficult time. Businesses, community groups and individuals have put personal issues to one side and volunteered time, goods and genuine care for those who need us right now, namely the vulnerable and the elderly. This community spirit has been likened to the Blitz spirit of the Second World War, when the people of Britain gathered together to help support each other and fight the common enemy. Only this time, our enemy is invisible, and in many ways, much harder to fight. But still the strong community spirit fights on, determined to win through the dark days.
It is this community spirit I believe will last long after this crisis has passed. This dogged determination to support each other, whatever the cost, will live on into the future. Personally, I cannot wait for the day when I can walk into my hometown and enjoy the freedom of shopping at the small local businesses that kept their doors open to supply food and other essentials to the local community. I am looking forward to seeing the smiling faces of the local townsfolk as they stop to talk to each other, smiling, with a genuine gratitude for friendship with a complete stranger. I am looking forward to hugging my friends and enjoying a catch up over coffee and cake.
I have great hope that this crisis will leave a positive legacy, long after the memories of toilet roll shortage and solitary walks have disappeared. The role of community in our society will live on stronger than before. We will come through this holding our head high, but holding hands with our neighbour. We will arrive as strangers, but leave as friends. We will mourn, we will remember and we will carry on, together, as one.
Stay safe, take care of yourself and each other.