End of term, end of school year. What a term, what a year! Thanks to all the school staff and volunteers who have helped to keep the education system going (albeit in a different way) over the last few months. Good wishes to all the pupils and parents/ guardians. All the best for planning for the new session
Lord, thanks for the commitment of school staff and parents/ guardians trying to keep the education system going during lockdown. We pray that they may have a suitable rest before the new session starts. We pray too for all the pupils, particularly those moving on to a new phase in their lives, and those whose education fell behind in recent months
The newspaper headlines today are celebrating when people will be able to go to pubs, the hairdressers, art galleries, on holiday. For it all to happen on the planned dates, infection rates must stay low. That requires people to be sensible, careful and think about others. Most of the population meet those requirements all the time, though we can all have occasional ‘blips’. Some are less sensible, careful and thoughtful about others. How do we encourage them to be thoughtful and considerate, without being interfering so-and-sos?
Lord, it is encouraging to think that we might be able to do things we haven’t been able to do for months. Help us to remember that the virus is still about, so we must be careful and vigilant at all times. Help us to respond appropriately when people are not being so sensible
Talk about Sex and the City! There were strange noises in the garden late last night. Investigating with a torch confirmed that two hedgehogs were indeed getting friendly. (What a chat-up line: “Here hen, d’ye wan a date doon by the compost heap?”) All fitted exactly with the text-book information on hedgehogs. Humanity has seen its world turned upside down over the last few months, but the rest of nature goes on with its business in the usual way, oblivious of us. At times humanity likes to think that the world revolves around it. Maybe we need to get ourselves in the proper perspective
Lord, thank you for the world around us. We are blessed with many good things, but sometimes we get above ourselves, and think that we are masters of the universe, never mind the earth. Help us to see ourselves in perspective, and to see our true place amid the rest of nature
Pictures: CPR Empress (not sure which) 1960s QE2 1994
Yesterday we reflected on the ‘new normal’. Today we are reminded of the ‘old normal’: it’s raining, it’s not awfully warm, the rest of the country is roasting, while we can look forward to usual ‘start of the school holidays’ weather! But the school holidays will not be the same as they usually are: people will not be heading off abroad this week or weekend; children have not had the usual ‘summer term’ teaching and activities; some have struggled to keep themselves occupied for the weeks of lockdown with sunshine, how will the cope in the rain?; and there is the question of ‘holiday hunger’ (some steps are being taken to help, but will children have all that they really need?) Some things are new, some things are unchanged
Lord, some things have changed unrecognisably because of the pandemic, but some things stay the same. Help us to cope with the change, and to work to resolve the ongoing challenges in our community and country. Thank you that you never change, and are always faithful and true
Photos are Ark Royal and Invincible
While sifting through old photos yesterday to scan for this week’s Tail of the Bank shots I came across some photos from Primary School days. When in P5 I went on a school trip to Belgium, starting with the overnight train to London. There we were on the station platform, hours after we usually went to bed, dressed in school uniform – boys in caps, girls in panama hats! One girl had her woolly scarf on, even though it was June! How long ago and far away that world seems. So much has changed in the interim. So much has changed in the world since this year started, and though lockdown restrictions are slowly being eased, we are not going back to where we were. In some ways the post-Covid 19 world of later 2020 will seem as far removed from what we knew as the year started as that photograph from 19?? seems from now
Lord, we don’t know what the ‘new normal’ will be like, but help us to accept it and adjust to it, and start looking forwards, not to a past that cannot be recovered
This weekend sees Midsummer. Restrictions on movement started before the Equinox, and we were in lockdown by the time the clocks changed. We have had all sorts of feelings and emotions over the past three months. Fortunately, and unusually, we have had many sunny days during that time. It may be indicative of more serious climate-change issues that will need to be addressed, but the immediate effect has been to help people cope with lockdown by (for many) being able to work and sit in the garden. Can God send sunshine to help us? Scientists and theologians may dispute the idea, but for many of us saying thanks to the Almighty seems appropriate
Lord, thank you that, amid all the pain and trauma of the last few months, there has been sunshine and warmth to lift our spirits and enable us to go outside and enjoy parks or gardens. Help us to appreciate what we have, not what we have not
PS Next week we’ll have awe wander at the Tail of the Bank
Question: Can you say what the new regulations are about meeting, and when they take effect? It was much easier when the answer was ‘Don’t do almost everything, don’t go almost anywhere’. It is more complicated now, because restrictions have to be eased without the risk of increasing spread of the virus. Let’s hope and pray that people take time to try to read and understand what the Phase 2 requirements are, and don’t start making them up for themselves
Lord, we wish all of this ‘virus stuff’ were over, and life could be as it was. But we are not through with it yet, so we still need measures to keep us and everyone else safe. Help us to cope with the frustration. Help us all to adhere to the guidelines for our own good, and the safety of everyone else
We are expecting to hear from the First Minister later today that we will soon be moving into Phase 2 of the easing of restrictions. The chances are, though, that there will be vociferous complaints that the easing does not go far enough, or fast enough. Concerns about children’s education, the state of the economy, the needs of the hospitality, leisure and creative industries, the mental health and well-being of large sections of the community are very real and important. So is the fear that there could be a ‘second spike’. Difficult decisions, weighing one risk against another. We all engage in criticising politicians at some time or another, but would we really like to be doing their job?
Lord, it is always easy to criticise what other people, to be the expert on everything. Have we never made mistakes? Have people never criticised us for decisions we took in good faith, though with hindsight might have been different? We pray that we may be more tolerant and understanding. We pray too for those in Government and their advisers, that they will listen to the voice of your Wisdom
PS Photos show German frigates and the Sugar-boat, and the wheel-house from the Lucy Ashton now in the Maritime Museum at Irvine
One of the main stories yesterday was the decision of Government ministers (in Scotland as well as England) to provide free school meal vouchers for the summer holidays. Holiday hunger (and term-time hunger) are very real issues for many families – the situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis, but it existed long before it, and is likely still to be there once the virus goes away. Similarly demand for the services of foodbanks has been around for quite a number of years – and is not expected to disappear soon. As we move towards the mid-21st Century is this really something we want in our community and country? Should we be asking Governments to address the issues underlying them – not just for the Summer holidays, but all the time?
Lord, you have particular concern for the poor, the vulnerable, the hungry, those in need. Help us to do what we can to assist with their immediate situation. We pray too that Governments will address the longer-term issues that underlie them
How will it be when schools re-open? When will schooling be back to ‘normal’? What will be the immediate impact on pupils hoping to go to university, college or a career? What will the longer term impact be on all children who have lost out on an important part of their schooling this year, and may lose out on some of next session? How will they and their teachers cope with ‘blended’ learning? How can concerns for the children’s well-being and education be squared with worries of children being potential carriers of Covid-19 virus to staff or family? There are no simple or easy answers, and as with so much of the Covid-19 response there may need to be compromises and recognised risks
Lord, we pray for all involved in planning the way ahead for schools, and all affected by decisions taken. We pray for all pupils, particularly those leaving school, and those from homes where they do not receive the same support and encouragement to learn