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The Coronavirus Diaries: Thankful For What I Have

The Coronavirus Diaries: Thankful For What I Have

Wednesday May 5 2021

The Rev Claire Sixt-Gateuille of the United Protestant Church of France says that the pandemic has made her more aware of her privilege but conscious of those not so lucky, at home and abroad

After a year of COVID-19, I have mixed feelings, like almost all of us.

I feel I’ve been hit in the face by the pandemic and the lockdowns, and I’m still struggling to adjust. But being a mother of two, working full time and periodically on the verge of exhaustion, this year has forced me to stop running. Actually, I’ve learnt to stop blaming myself for not being the perfect me I was trying to be – it became so obviously impossible – and I’ll try not to 'relapse' after the pandemic is over.

I’ve learnt again to enjoy the simple joys of walking in the sunlight, of discussing with a neighbour in the street, of seeing my daughters learning new things, of cooking with them. Being at home has motivated me to increase the proportion of local – although living in Paris, not so easy! – and home-made food my family consume, and to get closer to 'zero-waste' standards.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the capacity to adapt of most local churches and pastors. Worshipping through Zoom was not natural to them, but they did it! Solidarity networks have spread throughout the churches and beyond. Colleagues celebrated together, created podcasts, invented different kinds of systems to find the best way to keep in touch with the whole variety of church members.

On the other hand, I’m terribly sad to know how many families are grieving for loving ones. I’m still worried about the duration of the pandemic and I’m especially anxious about its consequences throughout the world, politically and in terms of economics, inequalities, violence, mental trauma and so on. Being in charge of the International Relations of my church, I know how difficult the situation is for a number of our sister churches.

I have become more fully aware of how privileged I am: I live in a welfare state, I can work remotely, I don’t have a precarious job. I’m not an entrepreneur who faces charges or wages without having an income. I give thanks to the Lord for all his blessings.

Feeling privileged has also made me more conscious of the responsibility I have to fight greed. The health system has undergone financial pressure in the last three decades – not as important in France as in UK, but still – because the richest half of the French population thought it was paying too much tax, not recognising how important those taxes were to maintain a system capable of taking care of each and every one. Taxes are the best way to share and to stand in solidarity in a country such as France which believes more in a welfare state than in charity. And we can see how the lack of solidarity with the least developed countries could have negative effects, a resurgence of the pandemic or the appearance of more dangerous variants if we not put in place a system for sharing vaccines, for example.

I wish I could go to church and hold people in my arms, share holy communion without fear of contamination… but in the meantime, I’m thankful for what I have and what I’ve learnt during this year, praying and standing in solidarity with those who are much less fortunate.

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The Coronavirus Diaries: reflections from Church of Scotland partners around the world

India: Love Your Neighbours
A Nigerian in Scotland: Alone But Not Lonely
Taiwan: When We Work Together, We Achieve the Best Results
Hungary: We Mourn Each Loss
Zambia: Preparing for the Vaccine, and a Third Wave
World Communion of Reformed Churches: The 'Covid and Beyond' Church
Pakistan: Passing the Light
Lebanon: The Lord Will Not Forsake Us
South Korea: 'It is Time For Christians to Hear the Marginalised'
Cuba: Keep Moving On
Canada: Cracks Have Been Exposed
Kenya: Leave No Child Behind
USA: Homes of Prayer
Mozambique: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
A Spaniard in Scotland: The Power of Movement
South Sudan: Being Positive
A Nigerian in Scotland: God is in Charge
Trinidad and Tobago: New Frontiers
Czech Republic: A Challenge for Everybody
Switzerland: An Outpouring of Solidarity and Creativity
The West Bank: A Landscape of Broken Dreams
Nepal: So Many Premature Goodbyes
Malawi: We Must Hold Each Other Close
Nigeria: A Fresh Spiritual Connectedness
Egypt: 'This Is A Time To Witness God'
Guyana: The Strength of our Connectedness
South Korea: A Harsh Reality
Zimbabwe: Convenience or a Wake-up Call?
Sri Lanka: Service is the Highest Form of Worship
USA: Testing Positive
Portugal: The Mission of the Church Has Not Changed
World Council of Churches: A New Dawn is Upon us
Hungary: Physically Distant but Close in Spirit
A German in Scotland: Something New Has Already Begun
Myanmar: We Will Overcome this Hardship
Ghana: This Too Shall Pass
Brazil: The Least We Can Do
Kenya: Caring for One Another in Christ
An Indian in Germany: A Time of Enrichment
Argentina: Time in Between
Malawi: 'My identity in Christ remains unchanged'
Jerusalem: Being Rather than Doing
Malawi: No Lockdown and an Election
Zambia: 'I will never leave you... or forsake you'
Czech Republic: The Covid Cover-up
Zambia: 'All Life is Sacred'
Israel/Palestine: 'The Air is Clear'
Nepal: 'Please Pray for Us'
Malawi: Tough Dilemmas
Italy: 'Together, We Will Get Through It'