"We're all going on a summer holiday..." or are we? The travel industry has suffered a lot of disruption over the last year as we know and many of us are eager to fill up planes, ferries and trains to take a foreign holiday and with life nearly back to normal why wouldn't we book ourselves a lovely break this summer? But Covid-19 just keeps on creating trouble. Not only is it still riding at high levels across Europe and in other favourite holiday locations elsewhere in the world, but we have had a serious setback on our own shores. In a nightmare version of ground hog day we saw all our Coronavirus numbers come down only to rise again rapidly. First is was the Alpha (was Kent) variant in the winter which frustrated our plans for a good Christmas and now it is the Delta Variant messing up our summer plans. After all our efforts during 3 lockdowns and getting ourselves vaccinated with both jabs as soon as we are able, we deserve a season of socialising, partying and going abroad for our holidays, right?
If only! Just like the children on a long journey, the answer to "Are we there yet?" is a definite 'No, there is still a long way to go...' Yes the vaccines are having a positive impact but we only have half the job done so far and it will be September before we can really rely on vaccination to see off the virus - and that's only the variants we know about so far. With numbers increasing exponentially again the chances of a variant emerging that can evade the vaccines is looking more and more likely. And we all have hard choices to make: do we go another year without a holiday? Maybe we can holiday in this country? But what if we take Coronavirus with us? As we move around the country we may be leaving potential harm in our wake. Of course we never imagine that we will be the ones who take or pass on the disease to anyone else. There does seem to be a weakness here in the way human beings are wired!
Perhaps the best thing to do is become a tourist in our own locality again this year. We are still needing to do our part. We don't need the Government to tell us anymore that the best strategies for sending the virus packing is Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air and get both vaccinations as soon as we qualify. We might nuance this further: on top of the basics we can stick to outdoor pursuits and gatherings not indoors and yes, we can do without travel.
As I have been pondering all this recently it did feel like we were like those in Exile in the Bible - forced to live in a different place in and in new social circumstances - this may be home 'but not as we know it, Captain'. And with the Psalmist we pray aloud in a heartfelt way "How long, O Lord?" but the evidence of the Scriptures suggests that the moment will come when we have turned that corner and we can look ahead with confidence. The moment when Isaiah is sent with the message "Comfort, comfort my people" when the suffering is past and a new brighter season is here. So, we are not there yet, but we could be soon if we all rally and reach for the sanitiser and our day bag rather than the tropical strength sun tan lotion and suitcase!
Stay safe and have a summer filled with home delights to protect your loved ones and to save the lives of others - the test of our Christian resolve and vocation continues but we look forward as we go out to sow seed in tears to bringing back our sheaves, singing with joy.