Letters from Lockdown – Number 5

The fifth in our series of Letters from Lockdown, written each week for our e-newsletter, is from Anna Radcliffe, St Giles PCC Member. This letter was originally published on Saturday, 4th July 2020.

I don’t remember exactly when lockdown started because I was ill.  Quite ill. Too ill to think about anything else. So, I “came upon it” a few weeks in. What were my feelings then? I suppose fear was one of them but not so much about catching the virus as how I was going to live on my own. Alone for much of the day, with only the phone for company. As a person who is used to being out and about this was a very real worry.

I was allowed out for half an hour a day so I started to walk up Shotover. Not very far at first but gradually further until my walk became the mainstay of my day. First, I met other people, most of whom I did not know, but everyone was so friendly and from our distance we smiled and made a comment. That stopped my fear of isolation. If I went out, I was sure to meet someone and the person would be friendly.

And then I started to discover so much more-. I have lived with Shotover on my doorstep for 50 years and, when my children were young, we spent a good deal of time up there, but recently, with so much to do, I had neglected to visit it regularly. I found so many different walks; it was bluebell time and they were absolutely beautiful, day after day, different carpets of such a clear blue with a heady perfume too. Another walk took me does the Carriage Drive to Shotover House. I watched the trees change as the weeks wore on. First there were new emerging leaves, sun coming through the branches onto the road and a blaze of yellow from the adjoining field. Wheatley in the distance was a far-off town in exile! Then the shafts of sunlight changed shape as they fell through the branches, to create different patterns on the road. I noticed a very ancient tree with twisted bark and a few newly planted ones. The roots underfoot came from random trees or maybe trees no longer there. The age of many of them must be in the hundreds of years. And all the time the birds sang. Different songs, each one special and lovely. As long as I stayed with my surroundings, stayed in the moment, life was bliss.

I can honestly say that Shotover has saved me from the isolation and fear and boredom and anxiety that so many people have suffered from in the past months. Of course, I have not escaped sadness but Lockdown has enabled me to “take stock “and to enjoy the silence and calm and beauty and warmth of the countryside.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us the beauty of nature and the sounds of birds singing and the breeze through the trees. Thank you for forcing me to stop and reflect, to really look and see and hear who and what is all around me. May I make good use of these new perspectives and relay them to others. Amen.