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Joy, peace and staying local

Right now it’s hard to escape the lockdown and Donald Trump’s last days as president. It’s getting harder to avoid the virus and maybe some of us have even had it without realising. In the States the latent divisions in American society seem to be coming to the fore and appear more ominous. All in all the world is a tough place to be just now. So how to inject a bit of joy into our safeguarding work is also a bit of a stretch.

We speak about doing safeguarding as an elemental part of being church. What we mean by being and doing church at the moment though is open to wide interpretation but there is an evident sense of joy about any online contact we can generate through worship, house groups and coffee mornings. Just being together in this way is good for body, mind and soul. The church has invested time and energy to provide advice and guidance so we can do this in safety too. Locally we have experienced a good range of YouTube and zoom services that seem to meet most people’s expectations and aspirations. These are backed up by written service sheets for those who either don’t have the video technology or simply prefer quiet personal reflection.

And it’s having the space for reflection that can make safeguarding feel rewarding. We can’t have the automatic face to face chat about something that’s concerning or niggling but out on the daily permitted and often solitary walk there is plenty of time for contemplation. Last week saw a BBC4 series about five individuals winter walking alone in glorious Yorkshire scenery, and they all testified to the boost this gave to their emotional wellbeing, giving themselves that valued space for just thinking. In safeguarding it’s generally about seeing and hearing something that concerns you, but it’s also about thinking and feeling your way through the issues, before you respond – except in an emergency of course! I’m not absolutely sure this will always bring you unalloyed joy, as you may need to take some unwelcome action. But you may feel more at peace if you’ve had the space to take stock and come to a reasoned decision.

Remember to think, though, is your journey really necessary and what is meant by local? Not for me to adjudicate on these weighty matters but getting outside to think can really make a difference all round.

As ever, take extra care.

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