As our days of living in isolation have stretched into weeks and months, three events have occurred, prompting me to think about if and/or how our current situation may be analogous to living through a time of war. And, and how we will remember this time in the future? But for today, how can we recall regularly occurring national remembrances when we are forbidden from gathering in large groups?
The first of these was ANZAC Day. At 6.00am on 25th April, and in the company of neighbours in our court, my husband and I stood at the top of our driveway and quietly reflected on the gravity and sacrifice of many, whose selflessness in conflict and peacekeeping situations we remember on a day such as this. We tuned in to the ABC’s broadcast of the Dawn Service from the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra as we gave thanks for the service of many across the years. Seeing rows of little lights reaching along both sides of our court that winked from out of the darkness was, in itself a most moving experience.
Then, for Victorians, tragedy struck suddenly and completely unexpectedly with the death of four serving police officers (three men and one woman) in one horribly tragic accent on the Eastern Freeway of inner suburban Melbourne. This event not only stunned and shocked Vic Police, but also has left our whole community reeling with a sense of horror and loss. Once again, we were called to stand in our driveways, when one week after that dreadful event, for four minutes on a cold and rainy night, our Country Fire Authority sounded its siren four times in honour of the fallen police officers. Of course, living in isolation means that no large services to honour these people could take place. Instead, we were left with heart breaking scenes across our TV screens of police officers standing the regulatory 1.5 meters apart along the sides of roads taken by each officer’s cortege as they were taken to their places of rest.
On 8th May, once again we had to resort to TV screens to be reminded of the 75th anniversary celebrations forcibly cancelled of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, particularly in London and across the UK. While this sort of anniversary may not resonate so much here, it stands as no less of a significant day for Britain and much of Europe than 25th April 1915 does for Australia and New Zealand.
When I looked at images on our TV screen of the thousands and thousands of people partying and dancing in London (and other places), it struck me anew just how significant this day was as it heralded the end of a long and terrible time of war. I have no doubt that one-day, we too can celebrate the end of isolation, as we move towards becoming a community once again.
We are living in isolation, because (we are often told) we are fighting a war. Not (thankfully) of personal combat and armed forces pitted against each other on land, air and/or sea, but we are all up against an invisible and deadly foe that is the COVID 19 (Corona virus) pandemic. So many changes and modifications of our lives have come about as we adopt strategies for ‘fighting this invisible enemy.’ Which includes living in isolation. So, what do we do in isolation? Among (many, I hope) other things, we watch TV. And when we run out of options on free-to-air TV, what do we do?
We have turned to a gift from a couple of family members some time ago, and that is the complete boxed set of ‘Foyle’s War’ DVD’s. Yes, all 28 episodes ever made, including the three post-war Cold War episodes. Watching these end-to-end in our evenings has given me a new appreciation of the terrible sufferings, privations and dilemmas that so many people suffered in that most ghastly of conflicts – the Second World War.
Throughout Foyle’s War and running in parallel with riveting stories contained in each episode, issues relating to war are explored, including war profiteering, women slaving in dangerous ammunitions factories, children’s evacuation and separation from their families, the terror and destruction brought about from the bombing of cities large and small, food and petrol rationing, among many others. And of course there is the conflict of air, sea and land battles.
All of these, plus their dreadful effects and outcomes are presented in the stark realism of this beautifully filmed series. Placed together and watched chronologically, the series has also been an equally stark reminder of why we should NEVER commit to such conflict ever again. And it speaks to me that every time we look at an episode, we are reminded of the desperate and current need for all of us to pray regularly for governments and leadership, regardless of party or creed, right across our world.
We may not be involved in armed conflict at present, but the conflict of containing a deadly disease is just as present, and desirous of us all to adhere to instructions in overcoming such a threat. So, can I encourage us all to ‘hang in there’ through it all at home, whether we are trying to work, educate our children or just get through each day as it comes along please? Think of those wild scenes of jubilation that characterized VE Day, 1945 when a terrible war finally came to its end. Likewise for us, there will be an end (and one we will eventually celebrate) to this time of dislocation due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
We WILL get there but we must trust government and leadership to take us there with wisdom and in safety. That is why I am urging you to prayer, for surely there has never been a time when God’s love, care and intervention in His world is more needed than now. Stay safe, stay well and be blessed at home.
Glynis Dickins is a Baptist Minister who has served in churches across the northeastern suburbs of Melbourne. With her husband Richard, she is currently living at home in isolation, spending her time reading, writing, knitting and walking their much loved ‘adolescent’ chocolate lab x pointer doggie Boomer.