Advent Day 23: A Light in the Darkness

Today, Mark Evans DCS, president of the Kirk’s Diaconate and Head of Spiritual Care for NHS Fife, shares a reflection from the front line as those in the health service continue to endure the effects from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark Evans DCS
Today, Mark Evans DCS, president of the Kirk’s Diaconate and Head of Spiritual Care for NHS Fife, shares a reflection from the front line as those in the health service continue to endure the effects from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the midst of all the current restrictions, the world seems even more confusing and strange. In many ways, uncertainty and change has become “normal”.

Yet there are some aspects of life which remain constant; no more so than the seasons of the Christian year. This year Advent, the time of preparation, the time of waiting, a time of expectation takes on a very “real” feel. Waiting for a vaccine against Covid-19 whilst preparing for what may be a difficult winter. Looking forward with expectation and hope that we may be able to return to a life without restrictions or fear.

Christmas in hospital this year is going to be very different; no visits by school choirs, no ward parties, no secret Santas, no Christmas buffets - there’s even a lack of decorations. Carols have been replaced by the gentle “hiss” of oxygen and laughter replaced by the “beeps” of various machines at bedsides. The usual buzz and excitement, normally so tangible, in the run up to Christmas, is absent this year. Staff have grown weary and tired and, at times, it feels an effort to simply keep going.

As I leave the wards and walk the quiet corridors back to my office, I’m taken back to my time at St Colm’s College in Edinburgh. On the first Sunday of Advent the senior students would get up at the crack of dawn and walk the corridors singing the ancient Advent Antiphon ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’. Written over 1,200 years ago, the words are as relevant today as they have ever been:

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

2020 has brought many difficulties and challenge. Disappointment and gloom as family events and special occasions were postponed or cancelled. For some, 2020 has been full of the shadows of uncertainty with dark clouds of fear. Sadly, for others, 2020 has been a year of darkness filled with pain and tears.

Throughout the darkness of Covid-19 at bedsides and in staff rooms, in the busyness of Intensive Care and the quietness of relatives’ rooms when things seemed dark beyond belief, there has been small signs of hope. Gentle smiles from behind PPE, caring looks from behind masks. Simple acts of kindness, glimmers of light, glimpses of the sacred.

As we journey through Advent there are glimpses of light. The clouds are starting to break, rays of light shattering the darkness; bringing hope and a foretaste of the coming dawn.

Prayer

Lord of light
Amidst the darkness and the silence;
Your light continues to shine.
Amidst uncertainty and the unknown;
Your light continues to shine.
Amidst our fears and frustrations;
Your light continues to shine.
Amidst the pain and heartbreak;
Your light continues to shine.

As we travel towards Bethlehem,
Your light brings hope to our world.
As we seek the Christ Child,
Your light brings hope to our world.
As we look towards the dawn,
may the light of your love bring
peace and healing to our world.
and hope for tomorrow.

Amen

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