Billy has a wonderful habit of asking if I’m ok. I must ask him the question a lot, because any exclamation, clang of a pan or sigh frustration is answered with a little voice enquiring after my well-being. Amidst the to-ing and fro-ing of the day, he’ll often tell me that he’s ok as well. All in all, we are both very aware of each other’s ‘ok-ness’, and I love it.
I’m thankful, this week, for having spoken with various friends – both old and new – and to have been asked how I am. The immediate response has been wildly different according which day and hour of the week we are talking. With Jonathan away down south, there’ve been relaxed ‘I’m handling this’ moments that quickly slide into wobbly, ‘not quite sure why I feel like crying’ moments. And the whole range in between.
‘How are you?’ has moved from the arena of small talk fodder onto deeper, more intimate ground. The nondescript answers that my neighbours and I might have exchanged previously have become more honest, more personal, more empathetic in our shared context and confines. The global nature of the pandemic has meant that us over here and family and friends back in the UK are sharing the experience despite the distance (although we haven’t quite hit those heights of summer yet!).
As conversations sometimes dig a little deeper, I’m more aware of what I’m saying. Without wanting to be intense, it feels like there’s a weightiness that wasn’t there before.
A friend and I were mulling a few verses from Isaiah today. The prophet, speaking thousands of years ago, gives voice to Jesus – the servant – and he says ‘The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may how to sustain with a word him who is weary.’ As Jesus speaks the word of God, he lifts and gives life to those who are tired, who are wearied, who want to give up.
In weighty wearied moments during these seemingly unending lockdown days, I’m challenged to be listening to that sustaining word more but also to be speaking it to others – somehow allowing the salve of Jesus’ voice to seep into everyday conversations.