Dear colleagues, residents, guests and friends of The Selwyn Foundation,
Easter is a season in the church year that is placed to reflect the northern hemisphere spring. So the theme of Resurrection and new life matches the experience outside as flowers emerge through the snow, and leaves spring out in green haze on the trees. The Church deliberately uses themes that link to the season to help us review aspects of life and undertake a kind of mental and spiritual “spring-cleaning”. This is because patterns or behaviours can become addictive - like weeds in the garden then they crowd or overshadow the good life.
For Christians this personal Lenten review rests within the wider belief that each of us is loved as unique and precious, and that Jesus the Risen Christ stands with us as we face our harmful actions, and any areas of hurt or healing required. So the weeks before Easter provide the chance to de-clutter and review priorities, maybe living with a feeling of loss and deliberately making space for new life to emerge. There can be health and refreshment in allowing unwholesome behaviours and relationships to lapse or “die”; to live with the sense of emptiness and grief caused and then to explore what new opportunities provide growth and engagement.
Here in Aotearoa New Zealand we have just passed the autumn equinox and on the 4th April (Easter Sunday) our clocks will go back to winter time. The endless summer is withdrawing into autumn storms and darker evenings, expansive plans outside are replaced with inside activities and tasks that can no longer be postponed. People close to me have been delighted to engage with others and hold meetings or gatherings that had been delayed because of the need to stay apart and safe.
As a nation and as a community it seems likely that we have also weathered the COVID storm through a strategy of elimination. For many there is a sense of relief in the announcements regarding vaccinations becoming available. Perhaps plans can soon begin to reconnect with beloved family members who live overseas. After a year of externally imposed lockdowns and restrictions we finally have familiar natural rhythms that invite us to look around and reconnect.
However some in our midst know and understand personally what a challenge this illness can be physically, and others of us have borne the weight of our collective challenge more personally in business losses and employment reduction. There is now clear evidence suggesting that restrictions on movement and the looming fear of infection rates overwhelming our health, have also had an effect on anxiety levels and on loneliness. If you have been affected in these ways then please be assured that you are not unusual in this response, and be encouraged to reach out for support to someone close and trusted. At Selwyn the Chaplains, residential care teams, and managers are more than willing to listen and provide support and assistance where possible.
To return to that theme of new life and Resurrection, perhaps you could personally choose to review some aspects of personal life that have reached their “use by date”. The last year has given us all the chance to try some new patterns, even if we didn’t choose them. What have you learnt from this?
It can be incredibly empowering to take something that felt like you had no choice and deliberately turn the experience into decisions for enhancing good life. We could see this regular personal review as a kind of spiritual vaccination, promoting resilience and growth, liberating new life in all its richness.
Reverend Caroline Leys
Director, Spiritual Care