Lockdown has its challenges. One of mine has been teaching my grandson, aged 12, to solve ever more complex simultaneous equations over Whatsapp.
This week I spoke to some people who face challenges that make mine seem like a walk in the park. A local mental health charity asked for volunteers to telephone clients to seek their feedback on the service they have received and the service they would like to receive. I spoke to one client who hears voices and is literally, locked in with her voices. This made me think about the bible story we recently heard on Bread for The World. Jesus is seeking rest but is interrupted by a Gentile woman, whose daughter is “locked in” with demons. She asks Jesus for healing and he, rather strangely, replies that the children must be fed before the dogs. Walter Brueggemann explains this as Jesus referring to the Jews as children and the Gentiles as dogs, as would have been common at the time. However, the woman boldly responds that even the dogs eat the crumbs from under the children’s table. Jesus heals the daughter but, perhaps even more importantly, goes to the part of the temple where people from all nations gather. He immediately responds to the woman who is telling him that what he is offering is so precious it must be offered to everyone.
We are frequently told that “we are all in this together.” In some sense this is true, but we are not all equally equipped to weather this storm. If the love of Christianity is for all, we will need the courage to interrupt the silence that surrounds so many people who will remain locked in by their circumstances long after the rest of us are back leading much fuller lives.