A Year Like No Other

Added about a month ago by Lyn McCrave

GUEST BLOG: We have come full circle, almost a year since the first lockdown commenced in the U.K. on 23 March 2020. We have nearly made it through this winter of uncertainty to spring. #BookOfTheMonth author Lyn McCrave reflects on a year like no other.

It has been a strange and difficult time, but one of blessings too. As our familiar world crumbled and we were denied the joy of being with others, I sought solace in nature. And I glimpsed in moments—a shaft of light illuminating the hills, a heron gliding overhead—a deeper meaning to beauty. It touched, inspired and energised me. One day it was the sight of a butterfly that spoke to me and I wrote the following verses:

A Butterfly in the Pandemic

Today, a butterfly,
the first of the year,
caught my eye
emerging into spring,
and brought me hope.

For you too, little one, have    
been cocooned like us.
Your playmates gone,
wrapped around with silence
as you waited.

Could you have known how
beautiful you’d be
when you arose?
For you have grown
in patient trust
to such a transformation.

So, may our fears
and broken dreams,
our flowing tears
for this world’s sorrow,
transform our hearts to deeper love,
for life tomorrow.

The beautiful warm weather during the first lockdown helped enormously. The season blossomed. It was so heartening to see that nothing, not even a pandemic, could stop spring from springing. Lambs appeared in the fields, racing round in groups like excited toddlers. There was a profusion of daffodils, which seemed to be saying that life would go on, all would be well. They gave way to gorse and broom. Then came the bluebells, banks of them in the woods. And later the ferns luxuriated amongst foxgloves, lupins, thistles and rhododendrons, wild roses and honeysuckle. Then it was the time of heather and the blue scabious which attracted the peacock butterflies.

It was good to walk and I often reflected how Creation is shot through with a shimmering light, a sacred Presence. Each day there were joys to be found. I became much more noticing of our garden bird life. My mood was helped by the antics of the blue tits, or by recognising a baby robin, and watching his chest gradually turn from speckled brown to red. It was such a delight when a greater spotted woodpecker came visiting, or when the chaffinches reappeared and I glimpsed a pair of bull finches in amongst the shrubbery.

Sometimes I felt a deep sense of peace and even joy. It was good to just be, and I was getting fitter with all my walking. But life was not all upbeat for there was a continuing background of unease and unreality, worrying for my family and longing to see them. Grieving too for the loss of a dear friend. Like many people I began to have vivid dreams, trying desperately to get somewhere but I couldn’t. One dream was comforting as the world was normal again:

…Children were playing in playgrounds.
Laughter was heard on the wind.
Grandparents lifting the little ones high,
or hugging them close
as they sing.

And as I woke up, “to the silence of bird song, / the dream in my heart still aglow”, I reflected how love is the greatest gift we have in life.

As the end of British Summer Time approached, I had a deep sense of disquiet. The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic had started and now we were facing the uncertainties of winter: dark nights, bad weather and other respiratory viruses thrown into the mix. Everyone was feeling battle fatigue. We were, as I wrote in another poem, like “wind-battered sea birds, wearying for landfall”. There were programmes on TV about climate change and species extinction. It was no wonder that people felt depressed at times. There were dark days when I had to work hard to lift my mood by overcoming inertia and going out for yet another walk, no matter the weather. And nature always helped.

In October, just before the clocks went back, I prayed for trust and an increase in the virtue of hope. I asked that I might find gifts in the winter. That very day my youngest daughter, who lives in France, phoned to say she had got engaged. Their love and trust in the future was like a beacon light. This was my first winter gift. And there have been many more. A poem came. Here is an extract:

In the grey of November
and the darkening winter days,
joy breaks in suddenly.

One day it was a nuthatch,
bouncing diagonally down and
round a tree.

Or the child laughing through
autumn gold, with
armfuls of leafy wonder,

that made me smile.
Like the December day that was
pierced by geese calling.

Or the freezing fog which lifted
for a moment on the hillside, and
two trees glowed in a beam of light…

Christmas came. And the gift we all longed for was simply being together with family and friends. But Christmas was restricted. I reflected how it did not go to plan either when Christ was born, at least not for Joseph and Mary.

The new coronavirus variant appeared causing soaring cases and deaths, and a difficult winter lockdown. But vaccines brought hope.

May this pandemic and the enforced isolation help us re-evaluate our priorities. What is really important to us? People, relationship, community, Creation. We are social beings. We need each other and we are all interconnected.

At the midwinter solstice on 21 December, someone posted a photograph on the Facebook page of the village where I live. It was taken last spring and showed the sun beaming down on the local hills with a golden mass of flowering gorse bushes. The caption simply said. “It will come again.” And it will. Spring following winter. Light arising out of darkness.

We have nearly made it to a new spring.


Lyn McCrave has lived in Scotland for nearly 50 years and started writing poetry as a teenager. She is a retired doctor who is married with a family and practises Spiritual Accompaniment in the Ignatian tradition.

Her deeply personal and at times haunting collection of poems, The Geese Flew Over My Heart, is our March #BookOfTheMonth. Get your copy here.


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