Just in case we were confused, being forced to stay in our homes is not some helpful folk have told us "a holiday". Those of us worried about parents we can not get to, friends who may struggle, or children who need to be taught as well as entertained probably knew that already. But for some the need to remind us that at no point should we enjoy ourselves whilst being cooped up was to strong to ignore.
They might well approve of the Preacher who was asked to talk about joy and came up with "when you think of all God has done for us miserable sinners, is it not a wee bit small minded not to be joyful!" Personaly I prefer Leonard Cohen's quote on the subject “It’s been a long time,” Cohen said on playing Vancouver. “Maybe 15 years. I was 60 years old then: just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then, I’ve taken a lot of Prozac, Effexor, Ritalin, Wellbutrin … I also plunged into a rigorous study of religion and philosophy … but cheerfulness kept breaking through.”
There will be moments in the weeks to come of happiness and laughter which will help us get through, and when they come, enjoy them. The people who tell us we are not on holiday are not wrong (unless stating the obvious is a sin) but the Christian tradition allows for a different way of making sense of this time. Christians and many others have gone on retreat, a time of stepping away from the world in order to return to it with greater resources and wisdom.
For those looking after small children you may well wonder if I'm taking the mickey, but there will be moments of silence and stillness, a chance to pray and reflect which have some of the characteristics of a retreat. In the Christian tradition, retreats hark back to the desert Fathers and mothers, the mystics who went into the desert to fight their demons. Those of us who have to fight to hold onto our mental health and well being may relate to that sense of conflict.
I am looking at these next few weeks as a time in which I need to look out for the needs of others, when there will be moments of happiness and laughter as well as silence and prayer. We will have demons of anxiety and perhaps grief to contend with, none of them have to be faced alone. God accompanies us into the silence.