This past year has taught me a thing or two



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Six suitcases are a lot for just two people.  And for just two weeks.  Even four suitcases coming back is loads.  Business Class on the way home – obvs!

One year ago right now Mrs Paul and I were packing loads of chocolate-goodies for our son and his fiancé, heavy hiking boots and cold-weather gear for chilly outdoors-exploring, assorted smart-casual for indoor/warm weather options, new adaptor plugs for our English gadgets, and all the paraphernalia for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

PLUS the fizzing excitement of our “bucket list” seats in First Class going out.  All because Mrs Paul and I were joining our son and daughter-in-law-to-be for two weeks of their two-year Canadian Adventure.

For almost a year before THAT I had tracked “our flight”.

Each Wednesday leaving T3 Heathrow (as I was on the train back from our London office) and each Friday as it left Vancouver for Heathrow (as I was on the nightly dog-walk before bed).  I “flew” that route every week for almost a year.  And then Covid arrived and borders shut.

With a lot of telephone calls we got almost all our money back.  And late last year our son and fiancé returned to the UK.

This past year has taught me a thing or two about dreams and plans.  Because I got to fly that dream (that had become a plan) every week for almost a year – and without going anywhere at all – and without it costing anything very much in the end either.

But having lived that dream we had other dreams.

In the middle of Covid last year – a dream to sit on a hot sandy beach.  Except by then that was a “no way” dream.  By then “we” had added extra “rules and advice” to the official rules and advice.  “We” had made life risk-free living rather than “risk-safe” living.

Except life is never risk-free.

So, against all the “I wouldn’t if I was you” advice/rules of “risk-free living”, Mrs Paul and I went through an almost deserted airport and boarded an almost deserted sparkling clean aeroplane.  We enjoyed a hot sandy beach in Turkey for two lovely weeks (in an almost empty resort).  And never met Rona once the whole time.

This past year has taught me a thing or two about rules.

Of a government taking responsibility for my personal behaviour.  Except me not “them” is the only one who can control this virus.  My behaviour – and yours – stops or allows the virus to move around.  But the government decided on behavioural science (as much as medical science) because we “love” our own personal freedom and entitlement more than we love each other.  After the abject fear came the “Which rules can I break and which not?”  Came the “What am I prepared to sacrifice?”  With the answer “Less and less”.  We are Covid-tired.  Which is another way of saying we are “Rules-tired”.

I have watched in curiosity our living with “Covid rules”. 

The consequence of rules needing enforcers and punishments.  The consequence of anger from the rule-keepers and the rule-breakers to both the enforcers and each other.  The rise of “How very dare they!” righteousness from all sides.

And this past year has taught me a thing or two about Love.

That this Covid rules stuff is simply about love.  Love for myself, love for you and love for a bigger global community.  Love that seeks to keep each safe from Covid and death.  The love of living and not dying.  The love of health not illness.  The love of those I love to keep them safe.  And the love of “rule breaking” so I can feel “free”.  Love that says I am only free when breaking “their rules”.  That says I have rights.  That says I am right even when caught because “the system” is wrong.  That I am strong and you are weak.  That a public sorry gives me back the high moral ground.  Which makes me right again.

That  … “love”.

This past year has taught me a thing or two about dreams, rules, and “love”.

That rules recognise “faux-love” but not Love.  “Faux-love” that says to get I must give – but because I give I must also get.  So we need rules of getting and giving.  Which is confusing.  A confusion that “love” is weak (and by this “faux-love” definition really is).  A confusion that “Love Without Condition” is impossible and those who try will fail.  So  anyone who tries is weak.  Which makes Love weak.  Because we confuse love with Love.  And makes our dreams “out of reach” so often because dreams are of Love (the authentic-without-condition “weak” kind) and not love.

This past year has taught me a thing or two.

That Love is energising and “faux-love” is depleting.  That Love is available and everywhere if I look.  That Love is stronger than life and death.  That Love is free and freeing and costs nothing yet gives so much back – but withers under “conditions”.

This past year has taught me a thing or two.

Which makes me wonder why so much of the “church” – which has had over two thousand years to “learn a thing or two” – still teaches of the depleting kind.  And says it because of Sin.  Says only God is energising.  Because of our sin. 

I learned to look for Love not sin.

I know someone else who does that as well.

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