From our Chaplain, Canon Graham Bettridge
Being awoken to the new normal
In animal eyes, the guide said nonchalantly, the largest animals just see us in our four by four as a mirror of themselves, therefore we are too big to tangle with. His proud boast came to mind as a herd of very large and focussed elephants stormed across our path. I think I did detect a certain cautious slowing down by our driver.
Criss crossing the game park are main roads and tarmac ways for the use of vehicles transporting the tourist viewer, the intrusive chatter of the two way radio continuously passing on from guide to guide the sites to head for next where the big game hunter of to-day eagerly captures (photograph) one of the big five. The big five are in South Africa: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, buffalo and elephant.
I personally liked to see giraffes and zebra as well as the hyena and rather vicious looking wart hog and hippopotamus.
Recently, due to the international pandemic, tours were forbidden. This sparsity of human presence has allowed the animal kingdom to become just that once more.
Now we are told new routes have been created, not for the convenience of hunter and spectator but for the needs of the native residents of the bush. The creatures have become creators. This new normal brings a refreshingly natural integrity. The animals become our guides, we learn from them, values change about.
Some zoo animals are loving the silence and the rest from the constant streams of visitors, but many are not. The zoo keepers are reporting morose, moody animals going into what they describe as a depression; they are missing human attention. This new normal surprisingly reveals they need to see us as much as we need to see them.
The Canary Wharf bombing was in 1996, the impact was enormous in many ways and challenged the young mind greatly. I offered these following words to the sixth form at my School the following year.
“The smart office in Canary Wharf was ideal for a new business and fresh ideas. Just the place for a lady executive building her career. It offered prestige and accessibility in an exciting part of London. Her particular office was equipped with everything needed, fax machine, coffee percolator, posture swivel chair etc. In pride of place on the desk sat a silver vase of fresh flowers; entering the office the very first comments the new comer made were invariably ‘what a beautiful vase’.
The morning after the bombing, searching amongst the debris she found the vase, now sadly misshapen. Undeterred the room was redecorated and furnished and the vase restored to its place. On being invited into the renewed office the visitor’s first exclamation was ‘what beautiful flowers”.
The new normal sees the truth.
Pilate ‘jestingly’ asked what is truth,? Latin; Quid est veritas? He then declared Jesus innocent, and dismissed the case. But truth was hard to bear, and costly to hold to. For Our Lord, yes, but also for us in our own life experience. It is the basis of the New Normal to be embraced not feared.
Graham W Bettridge
Hon Chaplain Parcevall Hall.
30 June 2020