Lockdown learning: #14 of 14 Life and death

The last in a short series of 2 minute observations…

For me the lockdown has been like a magnifying glass poring over life and death. I have been encouraged to look more closely at what life is and is not really about and it has highlighted death on a dally basis.

Neither of these things are comfortable topics.  They have sharpened my focus.

For life, it calls forth a focus on priorities and bigger questions. For me, it has highlighted an idea well expressed by St Augustine back in 400 AD who said that humans are fundamentally lovers above all else – our choice in life is simply to decide what we will love.

I agree with him. Contrary to appearances, we are lovers not consumers (even if people might wish differently just at the moment!).

Our loves are the most important things in our lives. These are what we serve and end up ultimately being shaped by.

How do I know what they are? For me the lockdown has made them clearer. They are the aspects of life I most value or have missed most.

Our church did an online vox-pop where people explained their important loves and some humorous highs and lows. There were some strikingly similar thoughts and the exercise was a good prompt to consider this question. What are my loves and – are they worth loving that much?

On death, although so far I have not lost anyone close to Covid-19, people I know have, and two of my own friends have died of other things in the last couple of months. Death feels as if it has been brought out of the shadows. We have all been taken to the graveside and whatever bubble we were living in has finally popped. We understand afresh that mortality has a 100% hit rate and the world has always been a risky place.

In reality, our  risk of dying in any one year is quite low and Covid-19 has not really increased it by much (as David Speigelhalter explains). Nonetheless, we are much more likely to know someone who has died than before. What it has done is punctured our sense of unbounded safety – and brought us back to the reality of death….albeit with a vicious bump.

Death demands perspective on the importance, joy and value of life. We get one life to live and we need to live it well.

So at the end of this set of posts here’s the thought I am left with as we emerge (slowly and not smoothly) from lockdown:

What is worth loving and living for – and am I investing my life in that?