Normal Time

Sunday, May 24th

CLCGB members and leaders jousting on Loch Conn, Trossachs

We hear a lot of talk and speculation about the 'new normal'. That will conjure up different dreams for each of us. I won't be kayaking, but I'm hoping for a paddle in the sea before the year is out. I'm also hoping we will have a new respect and recognition of all the people we have been clapping for every Thursday.

But I can't help but wonder what the hopes and dreams are for refugees crammed into huge camps in Bangladesh, the Middle East, Kenya and elsewhere. Their current normal is beyond our imagining and I'm sure their hope of a new normal will be much more modest than my own. At 70 plus, I have never known war in this country, never been displaced by war, famine or political oppression, never wondered where my next meal was coming from.

Syrian refugees in a camp in the Middle East

For some young people in war torn countries, normal is such that the corona virus poses little threat compared with what they have known all of their lives. Listen to a voice from Gaza reflecting on a reaction to Covid-19:

'Unfortunately, (or fortunately), we lost our sense of fear and danger long ago due to becoming accustomed to it, which is why we aren’t panicking. Lack of resources was never something unprecedented and most people here live under the poverty line and depend on UNRWA food aid, which is why we don’t run to stock up and empty supermarkets.

We take it one day at a time and hope for the best. This is wrong you say? Well, what other options do we have? I recall how my colleague’s 12-year old son looks at me in total carelessness — ignoring the dismay in his mom’s eyes and told me: “I survived three wars and countless assaults on Gaza, and I am only 12. Do you think a virus scares me? No. I want to go out and play”.

How can you convince this child that his health is in danger when danger was the highlight of his young years while growing up? If anything, this pandemic teaches us the importance of togetherness and being united because our survival depends on it. So here I am — wishing you safety and health from Gaza and hoping we all meet again on the other side when this nightmare ends. Let’s make the world a better place if we survive this, and let’s all unite for justice. Until then, please take care. And stay home.'

Ghraieb – a journalist and tweeter in Gaza. Contributor for Amos Trust

We celebrate the heroic effort of ordinary people here who are responding to the pandemic by demonstrating courage, skill, care and compassion. We hope that spirit will remain to be a feature of the new normal. Yet, in other lands, there are unsung heroes who we will never hear of while our news is dominated by our own plight. Take Firoozawho, who reacted to the atrocious killings in a maternity hospital near where she lives in Afghanistan:

"I was breastfeeding my own child and I got emotional. I could see the suffering of these other babies," the 27-year-old psychiatrist says.

As the mother of a four-month-old boy, she decided to help in a way she was uniquely placed to, and volunteered to nurse babies whose mothers had been killed or injured.

With the support of her husband, who agreed to look after their child while she was away, Firooza travelled to the nearby Ataturk Children's Hospital, where around 100 rescued women and children had been taken.

"When I went to the hospital, I saw about 20 babies," Firooza says. "Some of them were injured." Medical staff had been trying to feed the babies with powdered milk, she explains, but some infants were refusing to drink. "I spoke to the nurses and they told me to feed the babies who were crying a lot."

On the first night, she was able to breastfeed four babies, one after another. "It had a calming effect on me. I was happy I could help them." Over the following days, she continued to nurse her own son at home, while also returning to the hospital to feed the babies on the ward.

I hope and pray that people like those whose voices are recorded above will find a new normal which includes freedom, peace, health and a roof over their heads in a place they can call home. Not much to ask?


Mother, Father God,

Regardless of our concern for our own welfare, help us to raise our eyes to see the needs of others.

Prompt us to work for a safe and peaceful outcome to the plight of all people caught up in human misery beyond their control.

Instil in us with a vision of a new normal which embraces the whole of creation and our global village,


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