A Covid Lock-down Tale

Royalty-free ID: 1369386470 by Seventy-Four

Let me introduce you to the characters of this little story. Firstly there is Sean, he is a man after my own heart. If I ever met him I know we’d see eye to eye on most things; and then there is his faithful dog, a playful little thing called Lido. Together they are a great team, but it is a little like the blind leading the blind as both can be as silly as the other. There is Sarah, she is a helpful woman, always looking out for others, and then there is Bubbie, an old friend of Sean and Sarah’s – Bubbie comes from the spare the rod, spoil the child school of thinking but has fallen on hard times.

Sean and Lido had been happily resting in the land of nod one evening when the alarm on Sean’s watch went off. It was time to rise and shine because, as we know, there is no rest for the wicked. They both stretched and yawned and in the twinkling of an eye they were ready for their evening walk. It was 7.15pm, the eleventh hour because the curfew started at 8pm and they needed to be back by then if they were to follow the letter of the law.

That day the powers that be, who sometimes seem to be a law unto themselves, had announced another 2 weeks of lockdown. Two weeks, in the scheme of things is only a drop in the bucket but many where at their wit’s end with the whole lockdown thing and just wanted to go out and eat, drink and be merry. But it was a sign of the times that this just wasn’t possible.

So Sean and Lido were outside for their walk, “We have plenty of time,” said Sean, but that was just the kiss of death on their evening wander. Sean put on his Ipod, Queen’s another one bites the dust was playing and off they went around their neighbourhood to see what they could see. As they went down the street they saw a person standing on the side of the road, “Isn’t that Sarah?” Sean said, Lido just wagged, “She must be out fighting the good fight, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” 

As they drew closer Sarah waved and, staying 1.5 metres away, said, “Hi Sean and Lido a little birdie told me you’d be out here about now I’ve come to ask you a favour.” 

“Go ahead,” said Sean, “We’re listening.” Turning off his music.

Sarah looked at them both and asked, “Do you remember Bubbie?”

“Big headed Bubbie? The mouth of the south? Yes, what’s he up to?”

“Well,” said Sarah, “He’s not doing too well at the moment and I was wondering if you could help him?”

“Well pride goes before a fall,” said Sean, “What’s he need?”

“A little money”

“What? The root of all evil!”

“Anyone of us could fall by the wayside” said Sarah, “He’s changed.”

“A leopard cannot change its spots, he always was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, OH see how the mighty have fallen.” intoned Sean.

“Yes they have, and there but for the grace of God, go you and I, and remember it is always better to give than to receive. You once said you’d go to the ends of the earth to help people and I don’t wish to put words in your mouth but he needs your help. Will you?”

Sean thought about it and looked at Lido who just wagged, “Well it would be sour grapes if I didn’t, of course I’ll help. When the writing’s on the wall it’s what we do isn’t it?”

“Thanks” Sarah said, “There’s just one fly in the ointment, he needs it now.” 

“Sure”, said Sean reaching for his wallet and handing over some money, “here, take this, will it be enough?”

“More than,” said Sarah.

“We’d better go if we are to finish our walk before curfew, we’ll just make it by the skin of our teeth if we go now. See you and thanks for looking us up, glad we could help.”

They waved goodbye and Lido got her walk, not as long as usual but she understood. She is, after all, a very clever dog.

THE END.

What a nice story. When Sara asked me to write this blog she said to write it on Proverbs. Well I looked up proverbs from the Bible that are still in everyday use and in that little story are 34 of them. Not all from the book of Proverbs but all from the Bible. See if you can spot them. On Tuesday evening we’ll put up the list of what they are and where they come from but this little story goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. (Number 35, from Ecclesiastes 8).

S.

Category : #Bible , Pandemic , Siôn


The Gospel according to the Peanuts

Charles M. Schultz, Bantam Press, 1965

I’m taking a look at the Gospel According to Peanuts this morning.

In particular Linus and his blanket.

The Ministry team have been meeting at 930 am of a Sunday for a reflection together. This at the encouragement of our supervisor who we meet with each month for one hour.

The question asked of us to explore over the coming weeks was, what new freedoms have you discovered during the current restrictions?

It reminded me of our grandson Atticus and his blanky.

This item which was a t-shirt belonging to his mum, is something he took with him where ever he went.

If he became up-set he would find blanky and sit somewhere quietly and hang on to it, he would take it to bed with him and if uncertain about anything hang on to it for dear life.

He is a bit older now and is discovering different ways, new ways to manage stuff, blanky is still around but not seen as often, in fact rarely seen at all.

 It got me thinking about how I deal with stuff in the current situation we are in.

In the book by Robert Short, The Gospel According to Peanuts, based on the well know cartoon series, Peanuts.

Short describes the blanket, which belongs to Linus, one of the characters as, a portable security, a source of mental therapy and spiritual blotting paper soaking up fears and frustrations.

Linus describes his blanket as a yard of flannel that comes between him and a nervous break-down.

When asked by Charlie Brown what he would do when was too old to drag it around, Linus responded that he was thinking about having it made into a sports coat.

I’m now thinking about what my blanket is and maybe you are too?

Perhaps questions to consider.

Do we have a blanket?

What is it?

Do we need it?

What new freedoms are we discovering during the current restrictions?

This comic appeared in many newspapers.

Sourdough, COVID and Romans (oh my!)

The COVID-19 era has people doing things we once did as part of everyday life.

Staying home more, going out less, preparing food at home and who can explain the sour-dough phenomenon?? It even has me hooked!!

It all started when a cousin who is also a wine maker offered to send me some of her starter, which she has been using for seven years. She in turn got it from her Nona.

Those of you who know about sour dough, will know that it based on wild yeast, meaning the starter is a mix of only flour and water. Much like COVID-19 there is much going on silently in the starter, which just does its thing, while we attempt to ‘get back to normal’!!

Every few days a measured amount of flour and water are added to the starter. It then sits on the kitchen bench or in the fridge, where it develops and grows, silently, slowly and gently. When you’re ready to make a loaf, you measure a percentage of the starter out, and add carefully weighed amounts of flour, salt and water, making a dough. The dough is then rested for a period of time. After this the dough is turned over in 30-minute intervals until the dough develops. This process can take hours, depending on the room temperature., the dough is then turned out onto a floured surface and stretched, if in this process it breaks, it needs more resting.

Once it is stretchable, you can then shape it into what ever shape you like.

Mine goes into a cast iron pot.

The dough is then rested overnight, in the fridge or on the kitchen bench.

The next morning it is prepared to bake, but there is still a careful process to follow.

The oven and cooking vessel are heated to 235 degrees, once both vessel and oven have reached the desired temperature, the carefully shaped dough is placed in the pre-heated dish, small incisions are careful scored into the top of the dough, allowing the natural occurring gasses to escape. The first 30-minute cooking time is undertaken with the lid on the pot and is removed allowing the top to develop its golden crust. It is at this stage when the aromas of freshly baked bread fill the house, and entices you just rip a piece out and lather it with butter, BUT to do so is not wise.

You need to rest the bread, before turning it out onto a cooling rack and have a fabulous product ready to enjoy with lashings of butter, honey or vegemite, a bowl of soup or some cheese.

Peter, I hear you say, that’s a lot of work for a loaf of bread, there must be an easier way. Well, not with sour dough, which is much the same way we deal with COVID-19.

What do you mean it’s like how we deal with COVID-19??!!!

Well think about this….

There are no short-cuts, try that with sour dough as I did, and it’s an epic failure!!

Sour dough teaches patience, and being measured.

Did you know bakers weigh all ingredients,? yes, they do, including liquid, its more accurate!

A friend of mine who was a baker made his own wedding cake. Each piece of fruit was sorted and cut in half!! No messy chopping; no each individual cut in half, the results were stunning!! Process and taking care and time is important, but I digress!!, back to COVID-19.

As we may become a little impatient, and want to get back together to sing, chat share food and celebrate our Christian journey, we might think, let’s just take a short cut or two!!

I have a new found respect for sour dough, while it doesn’t ‘frighten’ me, as COVID-19 may ‘frighten’ us, we should respect the virus, and ensure we are measured in our approach, and so that when we are able to gather the experience will be all the ‘sweeter’.

Together let’s share and hear each -others concerns. Like me, who listens to experienced sour dough bread makers, learn patience. Let us listen to those who are helping us put processes into place, as we plan a way back to meeting together, in a way that ensures a good outcome for us all.

A reading from Romans:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.


Quiet Confidence

In recent days there have been books released with titles like Where is God in a pandemic?, and are these the ‘ends times’. It reminds me of a sign I saw in a country town asking ‘when will Jesus return?’ I wonder if it is people who live in western civilisations who ask these questions? There are places in the world where famine, warfare, and hardships part of the every day. It seems to me that the more privileged we are, the more we expect answers when we face difficult times. I wonder if it is because we feel unsettled as our norms are challenged? We experienced panic purchasing when news broke of a pending pandemic. I wonder if those of us who say the follow Jesus buy into that panic, or do we as Siôn’s sermon on Sunday suggested, be still in the quiet confidence that God is there in the middle of this with us and we don’t need to have troubled hearts? As humans we do have questions, we often find these questions come when we are facing difficult times, it in these times we need to reassure each other that God has not abandon us, God has not wound the world up like a giant clock and flung it into the universe and wandered of elsewhere, NO God is here and we are not alone nor abandoned. Those I meet with who live life in isolation, are often aware of the presence of God. We too can share in that. Let’s comfort each other knowing the assurance of the creators love.

PW 17/05/2020

Lock down Day 1008 Dear Diary,

Last Sunday was Sara’s induction. It was a great service and it’s lovely to have her on board with the Ministry Team. She is already proving to be a huge asset during this crisis, and there is no way we could be doing so much without her. Last week I was asked by a couple of people why we had “to rush” her induction service and not wait until this pandemic is over when we could all join together “as the church” to do this. Before we recorded the service, we thought about why we should and also why we shouldn’t do the service and the Ministry Team decided that we would go ahead with the Induction Service. The thinking behind this was simple – we have tried to keep things going during this crisis as normally as possible. We have kept services going – even adding other services to the calendar (like a Welsh Easter service and evening Vespers which we never normally do). Bible study has kept on (and it’s even grown), we’ve celebrated communion, found ways to sing hymns, started a book club, continued pastoral visits, are sending out the Monday Missive to keep as many people in touch as we can and are even doing coffee after services and during the week. So since we announced Sara’s induction in February (before this lockdown) we decided to keep it on the calendar. It was not a rush decision made at the last minute but a carefully considered idea to try and keep as much normality as we can. The church still meets, the church is still working, we met “as the church” for Sara’s induction, as we have for all the other services. In fact over 500 people met as the church for Sara’s induction and we have had overwhelming positive feedback. The building is closed, 320 Latrobe street is a quiet and cold place at the moment but that is exactly what 320 Latrobe Street is – a building. If this lockdown has shown us anything it has shown us that the Melbourne Welsh Church is a widespread and active community which reaches, literally, round the world. We have regular attenders at our worship services from Wales, Scotland, Germany, The USA, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and of course all over Australia. We think that having the services online is a wonderful thing and we are hoping to continue this, even when we get back to using the church building every Sunday. We are looking into getting the equipment in place before we get back to our buildings so that as many people as possible can share in our worship. Thanks again for listening diary. I had risotto for dinner. It was 16 degrees today with clouds. Ludo’s training went well. Alan started a new job. So nothing interesting really.


Stone Soup

A colleague of mine in the US wrote a post, which he has consented to share with us. It reminded me of the children’s book, Stone Soup, but with differences. Have a read, then I’ll meander through my mind on this one.

Grief Stew: thanks to Eric Wolf, ELCA pastor in South Carolina, USA

We’re grieving. Just to be clear, it does not have to be death which causes grief. That’s the EASIEST one to recognise but we’re grieving lives not lived, lives on hold, lives re-routed, lives transformed AND lives ended. And that’s bitter sauce.

When I learned how to cook, I was heavily influenced by my mother, who made a lot of chicken (I swore I would not serve chicken)(spoiler, I do serve chicken) and did not ever use salt. Ever. That I know about. My father had high cholesterol, and a low-sodium diet was absolutely necessary to keep him off of medications, so we all got to share that particular lifestyle. But the bitterness of salt in necessary, in portions.

When we left the US, we also left “cooking” as I knew it. Suddenly it was open-air markets (and yes, wet-markets, NOT recommended if you’re pregnant for sheer awfulness of smell alone). I no longer had to prepare meals, I had to plan, find, adapt AND cook. And I had to figure out substitutions. And I had to learn to make things like soft cheeses, grind and spice sausages. Oh, and some of the stuff I made was frankly awful. Seriously. And some of it was amazing.

When we lived in Turkey, as Americans we had access to some of the military commissaries and so we could get pork. EVERY-one wanted to be invited to our house for holidays for standing crown roast of pork (not lamb like here, which was another revelation for me) and a Mediterranean woman told me to ‘put pears in there’. I accidentally did what I usually do, rub the outside of the roast with a LOT of pepper (and some salt, sorry Mom). And peppers and pears was born. It’s really good. Everything we make, bitter or sweet, combinations of new flavours or old ones mixed in new ways, brings something to share to the table. I almost always halve pears, put feta cheese and pomegranate reduction and seeds, some walnuts and pepper in the oven and roast for the last fifteen minutes that any pork roast is in the oven.

We can salvage the stew. What we put in the pot is what we share, and the combinations are complex, confusing, confounding and crazy.


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