Have you changed or reassessed your life since lockdown? I know I have

Senior man looking out of window at home

There's been plenty to ponder since lockdown began - but has it changed you as a person, asks James Marston? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I’ve been out and about spotting signs of spring.

A few daffodils here in the rectory garden, here in the hinterland of the Suffolk heritage coast where I am an assistant curate, are just beginning to poke through the mossy surface and mother tells me she’s got snowdrops making an appearance in her garden already.

Things are on the up. Not least the amazing feat of the vaccination programme is clearly gaining pace – and, indeed, I suspect we all know several people who have been along for theirs. This is an achievement that has made me proud once again to be British and an extraordinary testament to not only our scientific expertise but our logistical skills when push comes to shove.

I don’t know about you but I’m awestruck by the astonishing speed at which several million have been vaccinated, it is an amazing feat and as a result it surely won’t be long before Britain emerges from its purdah blinking into the sunlit uplands of a safer world. Let’s hope so anyway.

It’s probably too early to say but I do wonder what we have learnt – perhaps we’ll look back at these past months and realise we’ve learnt something about ourselves. I have, and I suspect I am not alone.

Yet it is never easy to face oneself is it? To recognise our own failings, to be forced to confront our own selfishness, our own limitations, our own flaws is often a lifetime’s work.

As a curate, I am, and others in my position, are encouraged to reflect regularly and think about our own journey as we emerge as priests to serve in the Church of England. We do this through a variety of methods, journaling, conversations, and, of course, prayer.

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The point is that knowing ourselves enables us not only to know something of God in our lives, but also to minister to people more effectively and recognise that almost always beneath what people say and do are other factors governing behaviour.

And indeed, lockdown has catalysed the experience of self-examination for many of us. My friends and I have spoken far more about how we feel, rather than what we have been doing. Indeed, I suspect we have all paid attention to ourselves and each other in deeper and more thought provoking ways than we may have done otherwise.

Now I’m not from the school of thought that oversharing emotions is always a good thing – I am from East Anglia after all where we like to keep our private thoughts private – but I cannot help wondering if I haven’t got to know myself and those around me better over the last year, in fact I am sure I have and perhaps you have too.

By getting to know ourselves and, in turn, being more aware of the feelings and thoughts of others can, at least sometimes, lead to a rethinking of our own lives and purpose. Coronavirus has brought us together on a journey of self-discovery, as I suspect do all existential threats when faced up to, whether we like it or not. Suddenly things which once seemed crucial, fundamental and important, often seem less so.

Getting back to normal – now tantalisingly within grasp – is the light at the end of the long tunnel but I don’t suspect it will be normal.

Our lives have changed practically and probably philosophically. I am not sure how these changes will manifest themselves – I hope for things such as an explosion in creative talent, a greater understanding of each other, a deeper reverence for the world around us…whatever happens I am excited about the future of our country and ourselves like I haven’t been for a long time – not least because change is in the air, the season is changing, and I suspect, though we might not yet see it, we have changed too.

Has lockdown changed you? Is James being over optimistic? What do you think? Email James at james.marston@archant.co.uk