... in social distancing

Published on 22 May 2020
Thames Estuary.

I live in a densely populated area so, in order to enjoy my exercise safely, I have taken to walking out early in the morning. I am fortunate to live near the Thames estuary and at this time of the year, it has been a joy to experience the sunlight breaking over the mudflats and to witness the changing colours.

Being almost an “outpost” of London and a commuter belt, however, one of the disadvantages is that our community seems to have inherited the “disconnection” of the city. People appear to live in solitary bubbles. Strangers rarely greet others along the road or lift their heads- any social interaction is regarded as suspicious and head-phones are commonly used as a protection against any unwanted conversation. My daughter-in-law from the midlands found it all very alarming when she first visited.

Since lockdown, however, I have witnessed a subtle change. As we zig-zag our slalom route down the promenade, (even at this time of day there are many people out walking, cycling or jogging) I have noticed that more people return my smile or even answer my morning greeting.

Even if they don’t respond, they are compelled to acknowledge my existence by our need to avoid each other! So I have found myself grateful for this by-product of social distancing. I know the Lord will always bring good out of difficult circumstances and here now, we are at least a little more aware of each other.

It was crowned with a lovely experience this morning. As I walked enjoying the stunning light and scenery, a dishevelled rough sleeper passed me, grinned at me with a wide smile and responded to my “good morning” with “Yes, thank you and what a beautiful one it is too.”

This is where I found God today.