Friday 3 April 2020

Denise Blaskett- Reader at All Saints

Denise writes:
I am Denise Blaskett, one of the readers in the Whitstable Team Ministry, mainly based at All Saints, but I am more than happy to serve elsewhere and have popped up at the odd evensong at St Alphege Whitstable.

I have been a member of All saints since 2011 and before that I was involved in lay ministry in Saint James Church Enfield Highway from 1988.

My full time job, is a Social worker, working as an independent reviewing officer with Children in Care . I monitor and support a caseload of 65 children in a variety of care settings and make sure their allocated workers and carers are doing as they should, for them to reach their full potential.

I am also the proud mother of Adam, a trainee paramedic and ambulance technician for the London Ambulance Service .

Last but by no means least, Partner to Howard .

When I was asked to write this it was the early days of lockdown and I struggled to find the words .

For me, my underlying and ever present emotion was fear . Fear for my Son who works for London ambulance, he was training as a paramedic with just one module to finish before qualification, we now do not know when, if, that will now take place .

 Fear as he is facing increasing poorly people all with symptoms of COVID 19 , I worry that he will also succumb, I worry about this viral load they talk about and if I am going to see him alive again. Lots of NHS workers are dying, they do not have underlying conditions. Their work puts them in the firing line sacrificing themselves for others .

Fear for Howard who is shielding due to underlying medical issues . Will I inadvertently bring the virus home to him as I continue to shop for essentials  . What will that mean for him .

Fear for my Job , My Church, my Community which have changed drastically over the last three weeks .

Fear for my friends who used to keep me sane . My friends are my therapy.

I was paralysing myself with fear .

Gradually, as I became involved with services and community and joining in online with daily office , that familiarity of being with God encompassed me . I was worried about not being in a building I love, surrounded by people I love and feeling that love of God . What God has taught me in this time is that love can be felt wherever you are . That community can still take place , it just needs a little more effort . As I joined in with the familiar,  it made me want to explore what God had to say about fear .

I put this into a search engine online and over 100 bible references were found .
God and the bible had a lot to say, so I started going through them and picked out a few that specifically resounded with me .

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

Being caught up in our own thoughts and fears and worries of the day , I know I have and I have not remembered that wherever we are , whatever we are doing if we invite God in he is there with us .
The passage above made me think of the famous footprints and I got a clear image of God carrying me . Close your eyes and visualise this for yourself , breathe deeply and slowly . Ask God to be with you

. It has helped me to resume calm after panic .
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

This passage also has resounded with me if your head is full of all those worries , concerns , social media , news etc it’s all background and constant noise . Your senses are on high alert, you are ready for battle and like me,  you may be struggling to switch off at night and sleep . You are in flight or fight mode . This passage reminded me to reach out for God’s peace , to not trouble over things we cannot control . To not be afraid .

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:13

This passage again is a reminder that we are not alone in this . We may be in different houses , different countries, but we are in this together along with our merciful God . He is working in each situation providing guidance , rest , hope, he works through our hands and the hands of others . He is our right hand and hand in hand we will get through this .

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:34

A lot of my friends and family have started to live this way . Living for today as today has its own cares . A reminder to deal with this situation in bite sizes . Don’t think about tomorrow but just muster the resources to get you through today . Even if you take it in ten minutes, half hour , an hour , as much as you can at one time without overloading yourself .

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10

We know that we are going to suffer , we have been warned that loved ones will die . We know that for some this self isolation will be suffering . Our finances will suffer , our relationships will suffer . We may think that COVID 19 is an agent of the devil . We may see that this time of isolation is a test for us . A test of our resilience. A test of our love for humanity. A test of our love for our world, each other.

What this gives me though is a feeling of hope . This time is temporary and we must hold on , we must believe that we will come through it . Some of us may even come through unscathed . Some of us may be enjoying this isolation as maybe it brings them peace , has put the brakes on a bit , a time to reflect .

I have been struck by many on social media encouraging us to take this time to take stock of our lives and to reflect on the things that truly matter . To only take back the things that mean a lot to us and to get rid of forever the things that do not bring fulfilment or Joy .

I know that I want to take this time and reach out to my son everyday , like I used to, but life got in the way and a day turned into a week . We are reconnecting we are showing each other we are important to each other . We are sharing the pain of separation. Our relationship will definitely be stronger .

 But this isn’t the only change . I am also becoming more reliant on my faith , my faith is deepening, my relationship with God is also healing and this healing will and can be accessed by all and I am being charged to try to be that bridge , to help those who feel hopeless find the one who brings light in the darkness . The one who is with us , carrying us as we survive day by day .

Day by day
Day by day
Oh, Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day

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