Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Retreat yes, surrender no.

Bruce Springsteen’s classic song No Surrender needs a revisit. No retreat baby, no surrender is an amazing line.  But it needs an update. At the moment to retreat seems to be our only alternative, but maybe there is a way to retreat…but not surrender. When our jobs, our sport, our relationships, our entertainment, our communities and even our public worship are in retreat it is time to start using our God-given creativity to sing: Retreat baby but no surrender.

A dear friend of mine ventured out briefly today to buy wool and needles to begin knitting for her family. She has time on her hands, but she is not surrendering. At the door of the store she met a distraught elderly lady with a walking frame coming out of the shop. The heartbroken lady had ordered her supplies inside the shop, had fabrics cut to size and then was reduced to tears when told that her $45 cash was not acceptable tender. Card only for health reasons. You can’t blame the frontline retail staff, but my friend refused to accept defeat. She paid with her own credit card and accepted the ladies cash. The lady was blown away by a simple kindness and my friend was able to pocket a few extra frequent flyer points that one day may be redeemable.  One act of kindness is not going to overcome our present world-wide dilemma. But one act of kindness made a huge difference to a frail old lady who wants to sew rather than surrender.

Around the world surgical masks are in desperately short supply. The internet is full of how to videos. I asked the head of our medical centre Is a hand-made mask of any use? No, they are a waste of time was his firm reply. But, he said, if I have to go out and can’t get a mask I’ll put a handkerchief over my face, it’s better than nothing. A hand-made mask will not stop the virus but it might remind the thoughtless that social distancing can make a difference. Making a mask is better than surrendering to Netflix passivity.

Another simple act of defiance is the act of making two caring phone calls a day. Call two people from your contacts list, ask how they are getting on, share a laugh about better days and together refuse to surrender. Visiting and socialising are benched. Phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages, WhatsApp or a shout over the back fence are all valuable human responses that show love and care, with a spirit that refuses to surrender.

Finally, a trendy young barista friend refused to accept defeat when his café closed. He immediately applied for a job in the frontline as an orderly in a hospital. That’s courage, that’s impressive and that is not surrender!  

We cannot let politicians, doctors, nurses and the medical troops fight this battle alone. We cannot allow those in the medical world to risk their lives, while we ignore their advice or veg out in front of the telly.

Spiritual strength begins with humility and refuses to surrender as we draw on divine strength.

I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:3

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