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Reform Magazine | June 23, 2021

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On the pilgrim way: ‘Do I want to come out of the cocoon?’

Sheila Maxey contemplates leaving the cocoon

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Everyone is saying that there is light at the end of the tunnel and, as I am someone who tends to jump the gun, my husband is going to have to restrain me. I am the kind of person who will turn off the oven or the tumble dryer with an impatient ‘That will do!’ I will probably want to meet family or drive off somewhere new before it is actually allowed. But some of my friends are not like that. They warn me that the various dates for easing restrictions are provisional and they are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. I find it hard to be patient and understanding with such caution.

At least, that is the kind of person I was before this pandemic. But I have another image which now fights the tunnel with a light at the end – and it is the cocoon. For the first time in my long life, I have been cocooned in my home for months on end. Although we now go shopping, no family member or friend has crossed our threshold since Christmas. We have settled into a very pleasant routine with a long morning coffee while we read old diaries and our books, and a long afternoon tea when we do the same. Of course, I keep in close touch with family with phone calls, WhatsApp and, occasionally, Zoom. This week a niece came into the garden to prune our roses. Afterwards, we sat and had coffee outside, and she shared her joys and sorrows. I was completely exhausted afterwards. Do I want to come out of the cocoon? Have I aged so much that I cannot manage what I did before?

I became Church Secretary at the beginning of this pandemic. In our cocoon, an excellent YouTube service comes into our home. Keeping in touch has mainly been by phone, delivering a newsletter and the occasional Zoom meeting. But on Palm Sunday we are going to open the church again – light at the end of the tunnel. My old self is excited and making plans. My new self is daunted at the thought of all the arrangements which need to be made – not, of course, only by me. In a way, the future has been on hold and now we, as a church, will have to face it.

I am very conflicted – longing to meet people face to face again, and yet daunted by the thought as well.

I take comfort in the fact that all Jesus’ resurrection appearances caused fear as well as joy. This year I take particular comfort from the original ending of Mark’s Gospel where the women find the empty tomb, meet an angel, and run away saying nothing to anyone ‘for they were afraid’. In due course, they must have found new courage. Perhaps I am, in my conflicted way, on track for Easter and that light at the end of the tunnel.

Sheila Maxey is a member of Brentwood United Reformed Church, Essex

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This article was published in the April 2021 edition of Reform

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