These coronavirus days seem endless. They stretch out, and seem to invite for those of us having to stay at home a different pace of life, a slower one. It’s an ironic contrast with the hectic, driven world of the hospital Intensive Care Unit, where just turning a critically ill patient may take six doctors or nurses, and there is simply no let up from the pressures and responsibilities of medical staff. But – as someone who, on the whole, has tended to rush at and into things all his life, I confess I am enjoying slowness. There is time to notice, time to see, to appreciate. I hope this new habit won’t be lost whenever we emerge from this strange present situation.
And here’s something to notice today. The Church of England commemorates on April 16th the life of Isabella Gilmore, who lived from 1842 to 1923. Why? Isabella was a nurse, a sister of the far better-known William Morris, artist, poet, and social reformer. In 1887 she became a deaconess, at a time when the idea of ordaining women as priests was just a dream. A leading advocate of women’s ministry, her ideas have real, down-to-earth practicality. Here she is on parish visiting: ‘to go visiting with your heart up in the clouds or somewhere is useless, you had better stay away…. Go as a friend.’ Great advice.