Thought for the day 23 September

New restrictions in place (though for some of us, some were already in place) and the elephant in the room – this and more may be in place till at least the Spring – has been acknowledged. Even allowing for exemptions for ‘bubbles’, childcare etc, there is no doubt that the picture is not attractive. There will be economic consequences (lost jobs, and all that goes with that) and mental health consequences as people struggle with loneliness and isolation. I heard a very interesting and encouraging talk yesterday from a professor in social behaviour talking about the natural tendency of people to act together in a crisis, the importance to recognising why people don’t follow the guidelines and putting measures in place to help them to do so, not demonising, encouraging people to feel ownership of restrictions for themselves, and for those who make the rules to be seen to follow them themselves. There are things that we can do to help lift/keep up the spirit of others (even if we need a large jar of patience pills beside us!), but our attitude to others is also so important

Lord, it’s easy to point the finger, to judge, to condemn. It’s harder to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Help us to do that. Help us too to have the patience to work with those feeling ‘down’

Mary Queen of Scots 1542-87: From the Bruces the crown eventually passed to the Stewarts, but discord among the nobility and relations with England were constant problems. Mary became Queen when 6 days old. Struggling with all the usual problems, including an English king (Henry VIII) desperate to have her married to his son, Mary’s mother (and Regent of Scotland) Marie de Guise arranged an engagement to the heir to the French throne. Mary stayed in Dumbarton castle for safety, and sailed from there to France in 1548, being married in Notre Dame on 24 April 1558. Things didn’t go well for Mary: her husband died soon after, and she had to return to Scotland. She was a stranger, it was going through the trauma of Reformation, and two further marriages went wrong. Religion became another factor in civil wars, she had to abdicate, fled to England for safety, but was imprisoned, and because she got caught up in plots against Elizabeth, was executed on her cousin’s orders. Last year, remembering the link with Queen Mary, we joined in the national tolling of church bells in solidarity with the people of Paris after the fire in Notre Dame.

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