Our world appears to have been turned upside down with the pandemic that has swept across the globe. The speed of the spread fuelled by the highest order of fear mongering by the powers at play and exacerbated by the instantaneous social media platforms, spewing out alarming statistics, scaring everyone into panic mode.
This new panic has replaced the previous panic of global terrorism, mostly highlighted by air travel.
International airports are virtual ghost towns, as are many main cities, bereft of throngs of tourists, none more so than at this time of the year. (The up-side is that locals are able to enjoy their own cities once again – wink!)
Usually Christmas time would see the northern hemisphere travellers heading south to the warmth and sunshine, for those seeking a break from the bleakness of the icy cold and winter grey and gloom.
The converse is those southern hemisphere travellers gearing up to experiece a fairytale white Christmas and possibly a season on the snow covered ski slopes of the northern hemisphere.
Our departure from Amsterdam Schiphol airport was a total contrast to our previous adventures. Picture the scene: snaking lines of stressed and jaded travellers, haggling and jostling excess luggage and overweight hand baggage; clutching maximum sized ziplock bags containing minimum quantities of liquids; wrestling electronic devices from perfectly packed carry-on cases in front of bored, irritated and often power hungry officials demanding the regulations for airport/craft/personnel security be met, according to international standards. That was the post 9/11 scenario.
The covid-19 picture is as far from the one described above as is possible to imagine: virtually empty terminals with lines of those passengers daring to run the gauntlet of travel, all socially distanced, making them longer but without the bumping and jostling; perspex screens between passenger and personnel; contactless everything and sanitized anything, requiring little or no demand for unpacking or excessive handling of any bag, baggage or devices.
The usual stress of scanning hand luggage and wondering what was inadvertently packed, be it great-Granny’s embroidery scissors, steel tipped circular knitting needles (as opposed the the permitted bamboo tipped variety) or even the brand new can of deoderant, the volume of which exceeds the security limit for liquids, was entirely eliminated by the need for sanitization security over anti-terror security.
Whilst I have no intention of mimizing the impact that the rampantly spreading virus has had on so many people, rather I’m choosing to highlight my gratitude for the fact that I have personally not been affected (yet) by any level of infection and those whom are dear to me that have been infected, have thankfully been able to fight it off, with various degrees of success.
The real victims of this pandemic have been those vulnerable and compromised members of our societies whom have succumbed, alone and without the contact and comfort of their beloved family and friends. In particular, the tragedy of the elderly whom have been largely isolated, appatently for their own protection, has created confusion in many frail and failing minds, leaving them utterly grief stricken at being apparently abandoned by their families.
Where is the PEACE part of this post, you might wonder?
What the pandemic has done for me/us, and for many others, is forced us to confront our circumstances and give us the opportunity to change the way that we were managing those circumstances.
I may well have struck the proverbial jackpot in that the timing of the outbreak was nothing short of Divine, for us. To be “forced” to relinquish our rental home, pack up our worldly belongings and head off to the rural Swiss Alps for an unplanned sabatical of virtual isolation, I could never have dreamed about nor planned.
Following that place of peace and tranquilty, we’ve had the privilege of heading back to our South African family and found ourselves once again in virtual isolation in the rural hills of the Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Midlands. With grateful thanks to my brother and his wife for generously offering us one of the rustic cottages tucked away on a pristine trout dam, between the indigenous bush and the veld covered hills, we are once again in another place of Paradise!
Christmas this year, is one more peaceful than any other in that the panic of the pandemic has produced the need to limit the numbers of those gathered in one place, reducing us to our immediate family. What a time to treasure as we “re-boot” our lives to focus on the REAL reason for this season: the birth of the Prince of Peace, the one who came to earth to share in our human frailty and to walk along side of each one of us as we confront the plagues without the need for panic.
Signing off with a heart brimming with gratitude and the gift of PEACE/SHALOM/UKUTHULA/VREDE/FRIEDEN/SALAM
I wish you all a truly blessed Christmas!