Today is the 21st March, the first day of spring. It is also Census day here in the UK, an event that happens every 10 years. It is the 1st anniversary of the first ever lockdown in the UK. So much has changed in the last 12 months but then so much changes every year, but through it all spring stays the same. And it is the mix of mighty changes and the constants that I am holding on to today.
The mighty changes got me thinking about how very different each of my “Census days” have been.. This will be my 6th. My first, I was not quite 10 so my parents would have filled that one in. We had moved from London to a bungalow in the country. I had friends with horses and maybe too much freedom. Fast forward 10 year, as a family we moved twice and now live in a different part of the country, I am married, own a house and have a job. Ten years further on, I’ve divorced, moved a lot, had a crazy ten years that I am grateful to have lived through, and now hold my brand new son in my arms and know I need to calm down to keep him safe. The next 10 years again, are filled with huge changes. I have an amazing God encounter, marry, have a daughter, get divorced, move lots, and as I filled in this census form we are preparing to go to live with a Christian mission organisation. In the ten years from there I have worked in the mission organisation for a while, moved around a lot, settled back in the town I filled in the last census form, then got married and moved again. Now to this year’s census form, again many changes though I am still married to the same person, my kids have left home [though my daughter is staying with us whilst she’s furloughed], we have moved and I have published my first book.
Lots of other things have happened during the last ten years – deaths of family and friends in tragic circumstances being the major ones – but also amazing times of growing up, of getting a degree, of no longer running away.
These past 12 months will go down as a year of monumental change and I know that this year of lockdown isn’t over yet, but what I have discovered as I have thought back through my “census years” is that life events don’t fit kindly into a calendar pattern. Months and years don’t all start on the first day of the week. People don’t die far enough apart to give one time to grieve through each one. Things happen in a mess. They happen in a confused state.
The media and many others are asking governments to come up with a “get out of lockdown” plan, but as someone said on Mock the Week earlier in the year “this is a virus and it won’t stick to a plan”. The phrase that was spoken a lot at the beginning of this pandemic was that we were in unprecedented times. Why do we expect someone to have a plan when things are unprecedented? When I filled in my first census form as an adult I would not have been able to tell you that 4 census’s later I would be living in North Wales with a published book and degree in Creative Writing and History. I’ve had many “unprecedented” years, and most times there is no plan. The “pandemic years” will be different as they are something we experience as a nation rather than an individual. But sometimes I have come to realise is we don’t know our way through we just have to keep on walk.
feel I’ve walked a life time of unprecedented and know that there is a pretty strong chance that the next however long I’m blessed to live on this earth will be unprecedented – some maybe just for me and mine but some maybe for the world country. I am grateful that after my 3rd census I met with God in such a way that I have never been able to walk away. I didn’t met with doctrines or theology but met with the Creator of the Universe who told me how much I was loved even though at the time I was a mess. I believe the Almighty can do it now for each and everyone.
I share a poem from Jan Richardson who has been on an awesome journey through unprecedented times for her and can still say she know she is Beloved.
Today in the Northern hemisphere is Spring Equinox. From today there will be more daylight than darkness, and as I write the sun is shining. I hope this is the start of more light in our world than darkness, more warmth rather than cold, more trusting and less fear. We will all walk, either as individuals, as families, or as nations, through unprecedented times, but as Easter approaches, help us to remember that we do not need to walk alone.