January 2021

“So we stumble on, the new year becoming a gradual repeat of the one that has just come.”

Those of you with exceptional memories will remember that these are some of the words I wrote in my New Year blog from last year. The new year becomes a gradual repeat of the one before. Well, prophecy was never my strong point. 2020 will be recorded as being one of the most extraordinary in peace time British history: make that world history, because there has been no area of the globe untouched by Covid. And, as this year begins, we are nowhere near out of the woods yet; social restrictions will be with us for months to come, and even though it is really good news that we have a vaccine being rolled out, it will take a very long time for everyone in this country to be vaccinated (even if a million a week are vaccinated, it will still take over a year to attend to the whole population).

However, it is not remiss of us to look forward, and try and assess where this leaves us as a human race. One thing to note is entirely positive: Covid has made us realise that we cannot control everything around us, and that we are as part of the natural environment as everything else. As we really get to grips with the consequences of climate change and the threat to biodiversity, it is good to know that we can’t simply keep consuming the world’s resources with no thought for tomorrow. Nature has shown us who is actually in charge, and it is not us.

The other thing to reflect on is that Covid has released much creative imagination across the board. When we haven’t been able to take things for granted, we have had to adapt and change, and that means that, when things get tough for us, we don’t just slink away into a corner and feel sorry for ourselves. We think about new possibilities (and in the cathedral this has manifested itself in the way we are worshipping at the moment and using live-streaming facilities).

Of course, old problems still remain, and I am not advocating at all that it is only in a crisis that we are imaginative and creative. But I would want to stress that, as 2021 begins, these perceptions may be something we can build on: let us really see what we can do about the human impact on the environment, and let us continue to use that creative imagination to make a better world. If we can, then 2021 may not be quite as stark or as foreboding as its immediate predecessor.

With every blessing

Dean Roger