First Thoughts: transformation through crisis


Last week I had the great good fortune to catch the actor Rory Kinnear talking on the Today Programme about his sister, Karina Kinnear, who has died aged 48, having contracted the coronavirus.

Part of me wanted to turn the radio off, to avoid hearing yet another experience of pain and loss. Starved of oxygen at birth she was severely brain damaged. She was also paralysed from the waist down from the age of 19 and had survived sepsis six years ago. A fighter — but sadly unable to fight off this particular threat.  

But I didn’t switch off and I am glad I didn’t because, as he was speaking, I found his words to be surprisingly uplifting and inspiring. Rory spoke of a sister who had been such a blessing to her family and he recognised and celebrated what her disability and health challenges have brought to those whose paths she crossed: 

“Karina was ebullient, brave and wry, with a passion for noise, laughter, family and chaos. And those that engaged with her, knew her, loved her, were rewarded beyond their imagination by her friendship and trust. They grew to learn, inexorably and unalterably, that our spirits exist far more tangibly than our abilities. What a lesson. What an inspiration.”

He spoke of the extraordinary care she had received over the years:

“She needed the care of others to live. I will remain for ever grateful to the hundreds of caregivers who have, at one point or another, looked after her with such kindness and dedication, some of whom have maintained a relationship with her long after their retirement. Grateful too to live in a country that makes provisions of care free to all, no matter one’s need, however stretched and fraying their chronic underfunding increasingly makes them.”

And he spoke of the hope that we will retain what is good after Covid-19 recedes into the background:

“Maybe we might transfer our common sense of purpose, our shared determination to “defeat” an “enemy” that “preys” on the needy, once “the fight against coronavirus” has been “won”, to invest – financially and emotionally and with a similar level of heroism and selflessness – in the lives of those who will continue to need it most. It is a sustaining hope for now, at least.”

In recent days many of us have been voicing this desire for a better world and way of living, post-pandemic.  But we all know how difficult that will be to achieve; humans are creatures of habit and our tendency is to revert to type. How can we prevent this from happening?

Pentecost transformation

At Pentecost last Sunday, we relived the transformation brought about by the Holy Spirit. We saw Peter, a fisherman, able to stand up and address the crowds, to inspire them with a love for God which caused people to change their lives, (Acts Chapter 2).

Our prayer today must surely be for such transformation to take root and grow out of our current experience, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a time when we have more opportunity than usual to look for change.

I have been reflecting on the following questions as a starting point for change, in my own life and beyond:

  • What have we learnt about our community during this time?

  • What have we learnt about ourselves? 

  • What is most important to us? 

  • What have we learnt about God?

  • And crucially: how can we put this learning into action in God’s service?

Questions I hope and pray not to lose sight of as we emerge from lockdown.  

Take care and have a good and blessed month, empowered by the Holy Spirit!

With love and prayer,

Canon Ann