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With lockdown easing, it's time to pick up some of those old good habits, says Bishop Martin



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I went to see my GP last week – nothing serious – and he was telling me that the last few weeks they had seen a huge surge in patients coming in with the conditions they had not felt able to contact the doctor about during the more restricted period of lockdown.

A backlog of aches and pains, and for some of us, that niggle about something more serious.

As restrictions ease, and particularly as more and more of us have not just one vaccination but two, we are increasingly able to get out and take care of things that we were forced to put on hold, or which we have not felt safe dealing with.

Bishop Martin Seeley
Bishop Martin Seeley

And some of those, like that ailment we have been aware of for a while, are a bit more obvious and have been reminding us that maybe now we need to get it seen to.

And for others of us, the dentist, although they have been open, will be on the list to visit now for the same reason.

But there are other areas where we have neglected to attend to something that are less obvious, and which don’t have their own built-in reminder.

We may have paid them less and less attention, but we haven’t noticed that we have done so; the pandemic has numbed our sensitivities and made us forgetful of some things that are important to us.

The pandemic has had a subtle effect on us, reducing our expectations and hopes, stripping away taken-for-granted habits and routines, and somehow luring us into forgetting about them.

Luring us into living with less – including less of what is good for us and important to us.

And while our bodies might be able to prompt us to do something about it, it may be that some of those parts of ourselves that need care and attention are not speaking up so loudly.

So we have to listen a bit more carefully.

When was the last time we spoke to that friend, who in the first lockdown we were really good at calling, but those calls have dwindled to nothing for a while now?

Or in the first lockdown we would go out each day for a good walk and watch the buds grow and burst, but we haven’t been doing that this spring, and it’s not just because it’s been colder.

Or maybe we have stopped keeping that journal that we were so diligent in writing in each day, or we just aren’t reading quite so much as we were.

Or after the determination to help in the first lockdown, making a difference for our neighbours with shopping, phone calls and support, these past couple of months it has just seemed harder to do that.

When we think about it, maybe we realise too we are not praying as much as we used to.

These are all signs, not of neglecting our physical health but of neglecting our spiritual health.

And the pandemic has subtly done that, nibbling away at those things that we just did as part of our spiritual well-being, caring for ourselves and caring for others who need us.

And just as it is time finally to go to the doctor, so it is time finally to pick up those practices, habits and delights that we may have neglected but which we know tend our souls, and help us tend each other.

- Bishop Martin Seeley is the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and is writing a weekly article for readers while church services are disrupted by the pandemic

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