A Quiet Place

For good or bad, we have had a relatively gentle lockdown in England. We are allowed out once a day to exercise for an hour or so although we are discouraged from driving somewhere to do this. Walking close to home has become the common practice and, because of the lack of traffic, it is an unusually peaceful experience. We are hearing the sound of birds singing more clearly than has been possible for fifty years or more. In fact, the new ambience is like one long Sunday afternoon from back in the days when we kept the Lord’s Day special; when shops were closed and very little heavy goods traffic took to the roads.

Of course, you can have too much of a good thing and busyness and noise are as good for us as peace and quiet if each is enjoyed in the right measure. I am not advocating that this twenty-four/seven peaceful kingdom is extended indefinitely. As I get older I find myself shunning clamour more and more but I remember how much I rejoiced in noise and a high-speed life when I was young. I would not want to deny that to the young people of today.

I also remember being infuriatingly bored by our pre-libertarian Sundays when nothing happened except church. I would have, more than likely, signed any petition calling for the Sabbath to be scrapped and the doors of the shopping centres to be thrown open. Forty years later I have to confess that the “Keep Sunday Special” crowd were right to claim that we would lose something special if we made the first day of the week no different to any other day.

There is no going back; that which is broken cannot be stuck back together again. But, maybe we could and should try to extend the current Sabbathness of our lives beyond the lifting of the lockdown. I would love to see this being taken up by everybody although I have no idea how this could be achieved. I do hope that I find the willpower to embrace it for my wife and myself, which is something that is achievable. Even if it is for just one day of the week we all need to be able to walk in the fresh air and hear the birds sing.

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