Three Years On…

As winter begins to give way to brighter days (though somewhat reluctantly this year), memories are stirred of that spring, three years ago, when the world stopped. I wonder if it will always be this way.

It starts with the weekend camp I lead at the end of February. I remember that camp in 2020 – receiving the email midway through with the new coronavirus policy and the comment that “you probably won’t need it.” The camp that year ended on 1st March and it blows my mind to think that in a few short weeks, we went from 70 of us spending the weekend together to complete lockdown.

It’s crazy to think how quickly it went from being a distant situation in China to being something that impacted almost everyone in the world. It’s strange how, even as the severity of the situation progressed, we really had no idea what was happening.

For me, March 16th was the last bit of beautiful normal. Around 6pm that night the announcement came that we were to limit social contact and avoid crowded places. At 7.30pm I had a band rehearsal. I was unsure whether to go, but I went and found that most others had done the same. The restrictions were only advisory at that stage, and I think we needed a little time to process it all.

For two hours, we mostly forgot the pandemic and enjoyed making music together, though my mind did turn at times to the band on the Titanic, playing as the ship began to sink. As we packed up to leave, our conductor said, “See you next week.”

Reality hit for most of us at that point, and a chorus of voices echoed, “We won’t be here next week.”

“Yes you will,” he insisted. “Unless the boss says so or you’re dead.”

It was 16 months before we played together again…

March 23rd signified the official start of lockdown in the UK. Everything was closed. Everything was cancelled. Life was on hold. I still can’t get my head round the fact that for almost four months it was illegal for me to meet face-to-face with another human being.

Three years on, I’m thankful that in many ways life has returned to normal, but the pandemic has left its mark on each of us as individuals, and on society.

As I look back, the words of Lamentations 3 come to mind:

“I will never forget this awful time as I grieve over my loss.” (Lamentations 3:20 NLT)

But fortunately that’s not the end of Jeremiah’s thought. He goes on to say:

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”” (Lamentations 3:21-24 NLT)

If there is one positive thing I have taken from the pandemic, it is gratitude – gratitude for the little normal things that I would have taken for granted pre-COVID. At the start of 2021, I compiled a long list of things I wanted to do that year and as the year progressed I wrote the date against each item on my list that I got to do. None of them were spectacular; they were very, very normal. The list included things like seeing my family, church in person, playing music with others, seeing my work colleagues face-to-face, and travelling outside my council area.

While I no longer have a list, I am still celebrating doing “normal” things I haven’t done in over three years. Last week, I attended a theatre production in the town where I grew up. I spent a significant amount of my childhood in that building and have regularly visited since, but this was my first time since 2019. This week, I will go into schools to teach Easter lessons, also for the first time since 2019.

During the pandemic, my friend suggested that, when it was over, 23rd March should be gratitude day, when we should spend time with family and friends and celebrate the fact that we can, when we can remember all the little everyday blessings that were taken away and have now been restored.

I like that perspective.

I don’t think I will ever forget those dark days of 2020, but I am grateful that this week I have gathered for church and to play music, I have spent time with friends and worked in schools, I have had the freedom to travel where I wanted and to be in face-to-face contact with as many people as I liked.

Despite the challenges, and despite the fact that there are some things that will never be the same, I have seen God’s faithfulness.

I’d love to know: What are your thoughts as you look back on 2020? What “normal” things are you grateful for?

Linking with: Inspire Me MondayTell His StoryInstaEncouragementsLet’s Have CoffeeRecharge WednesdayTune In ThursdayGrace & Truth


23 thoughts on “Three Years On…

  1. Lesley, this is a profound glimpse into what the days around and after March 23, 2020, were like for you. For example, this: “for almost four months it was illegal for me to meet face-to-face with another human being.” That shakes my heart just reading it now; I can only imagine how it was for you to live through it. I love your friend’s suggestion that March 23 should be gratitude day. Truly, we have so much to be thankful for … with “normal” being right at the top!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, yes. That season does come to mind … life stopped on so many levels. I remember your posts back then, Lesley, and the suddenness of the changes for you. For all of us. And yes, time has moved on but still, the scars remain for many. And we are wise to honor that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think it affected everyone in different ways. There are so many different challenges that people faced and I think a lot are still recovering.


  3. Thank you, Lesley. I love the suggestion of a gratitude day, but then I do try to have gratitude as my first response to every day. Be thankful to God in all circumstances – not easy in some circumstances!!
    It is shocking how meeting face-to-face became illegal for some. Much of that year was shocking to me. And many things have not returned to how they were. Many spoke of a ‘new normal’, which could have been an opportunity for healthy change. I guess seizing that opportunity to create healthy change is our own responsibility in our communities.
    I am most grateful for the people in my life and that for now, I still have freedom to meet, celebrate and worship the Lord publicly.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my goodness, Lesley, this is so hard! “I still can’t get my head round the fact that for almost four months it was illegal for me to meet face-to-face with another human being.” We had advisories, and mask restrictions, but these were lifted after several months, I cannot imagine it being illegal to meet face-to-face and the policing aspect of it. I’m so glad you are experiencing restoration of many things in 2023.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa! Yes, there were many points in the pandemic when I was amazed at the freedom people enjoyed elsewhere compared to the restrictions we endured. Even this time last year we had to wear masks, so I’m grateful we don’t have to now.


  5. Leslie, it is sobering to think back and see what we all have endured. As we do, may our hearts be filled with gratitude for God’s Presence with us and remember He will always be faithful to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this post, Lesley. I love the idea of a gratitude day, and hope I will forever be grateful for the small things that became a lifeline during that time, as well as those we enjoy freely again now

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lesley, it is painful to look back, for it felt like such a violation to human decency to be forbidden to have human contact. As a hospice worker, watching people die alone not only saddened me, it angered me.
    I still do not believe it needed to be that way. The lack of human contact caused much more long term mental health issues than COVID ever could have.
    Gratitude day is a wonderful thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Donna! I agree, I think the measures were well-intentioned but they caused a lot of problems. I especially feel for those who didn’t get to see family members who were seriously ill or dying.


  8. There is so much to be grateful for in the everyday. The pandemic helped to bring that home to me too, and I hope I’ll never forget it. Human contact is precious indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love that you made a list of those normal things that you wanted to do again. It really is hard to believe how crazy these past few years have been, and all the changes that affected everyone in the world in some way or other. Remaining grateful for the beauty we continue to find is a wonderful perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your article reminded me of the things I’ve returned to like shopping for groceries in the store instead of online, attending church in person, and last week my son and I enjoyed a lovely evening listening to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in person. Thanks for reminding me of the precious things we can do again.

    Liked by 1 person

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