Recently, Melbourne’s weather has been fulfilling most people’s expectations of our city’s winter. Gloomy. Drizzly. Cold. Windy. But we could now go to the gym. Cinemas had started to open up. My local neighbourhood had a renewed hum. Poached eggs with smashed avo was back on the menu at the local café.
I was making plans for a work meeting … not on Zoom but face-to-face at a café. And just as we were finalising the details via text yesterday afternoon, one of the participants sent a quick note leading to a bit of a spiral for me … “Hi – lockdown has just been announced for all of us – sadly think we need to Zoom.”
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We have been pilloried by other state premiers, twitter, and by teasing interstate friends
I clicked on the news section of my phone. Nothing in yet. I went to the computer. Googled Dan Andrews, and there he was giving a media conference, livestreaming into my laptop. The news wasn’t good.
We were already feeling the pain for the other suburbs locked down. Even more for the residents of the nine housing commission blocks in Flemington and North Melbourne literally locked in their apartments with no notice.
We have been pilloried by other state premiers, Twitter, and by teasing interstate friends. But two people have died and the numbers of those infected with COVID-19 are going in the wrong direction.
A couple of friends and colleagues have reached out. Everything okay? How are you all going? Well, the truth is we all feel somewhat discombobulated! We thought we were doing well. Restrictions had loosened. We even had some glorious sunny days where we could sit in the park.
But now? Well, we can’t even travel to Geelong, let alone Sydney, Adelaide or Launceston. In fact, we shouldn’t really travel at all except to shop for groceries, to work if you absolutely have to, for a medical appointment … you know the drill.
I live in the vibrant inner city of Melbourne. Not so vibrant during a lockdown. The streets are bereft of cars and people. The shops are shut.
Since the pandemic arrived, many businesses in my area have gradually cleared their floors, and a ‘For Lease’ sign has appeared in the front windows. I grieve for their broken dreams.
I grieve for my acting son and all those involved in theatre and the arts, who are seeing their industry decimated and they wonder whether they will ever get to perform to a live audience again.
I grieve for those in the Victorian tourism industry, who can’t even welcome Melburnians to their doors. First the bushfires. Then Shutdown Mark 1 and now Mark 2 before they had even really begun again.
I grieve for the isolated, the vulnerable, the unwell and I grieve for those in other places whose lot is far worse than mine. And then I am reminded of grace. That this is a short suffering for me. I have a roof over my head. I have a healthy family. I have a wonderful job and great colleagues. I can walk to the local shop to get groceries.
I pray for my friends, colleagues, health workers, politicians whose lives are complex. I remember that I am beloved by the God of the Universe who was here before time began and will be here long after it ends.
This is just a time. Yes it is hard. But it too will pass.
In the meantime, I seek God’s peace which surpasses all understanding, because it is that peace which will help me manage not just myself, but encourage and nurture those whom God places before me.