If you have opportunity to ask people how they are these days, whether by phone or email or video call, the chances are that one word will jump out at you – weary. There is a tiredness, a peculiar kind of tiredness, that has come with the experience of spending much of the last year under a kind of house arrest. It isn’t a physical tiredness, or even a mental one. Whether you’re very busy or don’t have quite enough to do – and there are plenty of people in both camps – the weariness comes not from activity or inactivity but from the constant strain of the pandemic.
The Weekly Letter will resume next week. In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone.
Back in the early summer I had a notion that we might be able to restore our normal pattern of worship around the middle of the autumn. It seemed like a conservative hope at the time. Yet here we are at Christmas with Covid cases rising once more, restrictions still in place in what we are permitted to do in church, and the spectre of a third national lockdown haunting us. It’s an odd time to be writing about hope.
I’ve always had an affection for St John the Baptist. He seems to me to be precisely the sort of earnest but sour person we need to set against the prevailing culture of impulsive, consumerist religion that we find in the world around us.
I’ve spent much of the past month wrestling with minor illnesses. While this has been irritating and not especially pleasant, it has had a couple of benefits. The first is that I have been very grateful not to have caught the Coronavirus. Anything that encourages gratitude is a blessing. The second is that I have been able to watch a few Netflix shows that I would probably not have found time for otherwise.
A few times in the last weeks I’ve been asked questions about the future. Some of these questions have referred ironically to my crystal ball, and I must admit that there have been moments when I have found myself with no clue as to how to answer.