The pandemic has given us the chance to remember the joy of gratitude

For the first time since the lockdown, some friends of mine came down from London last Saturday and we went out for a late lunch in a café that had always been a buzzy hub of social life Brighton.

Diners sit at tables outside a restaurant as the Government's "Eat out to Help out" coronavirus scheme gets consumers spending again
Diners sit at tables outside a restaurant as the Government's "Eat out to Help out" coronavirus scheme gets consumers spending again

We appreciated being able to meet up again in a way we’d previously just taken for granted.

It was also a bit strange ordering food from a menu, after getting used to a very different regime of meals at home, using up whatever you can, and actually enjoying that challenge.

And I was struck by the cheeriness of the staff, who were glad to be open again. But you could tell there was a question over the viability of this trendy eating place, even in a large and popular destination like Brighton.

As we parted to go our separate ways, I was very struck by how special this lunch had been, in meeting friends again, having food prepared for us, and supporting the local economy. Each of these aspects of our lunch had assumed a greater importance as something to value and be grateful for.

And it seems I’m not alone in wanting to reconsider the worth of things we previously took for granted. At Church the next day, I chatted with a single parent who’d been on a staycation trip to Bexhill, camping with her two boys.

They’d borrowed all the kit, the tents had stayed up and hadn’t leaked, catering had been a triumph, especially the early morning fried breakfast. This was all they could afford this year because work is scarce and there isn’t the money for a holiday destination with livelier attractions than the Bexhill campsite.

But actually, the boys had loved it. Mum was a star and they were proud of their holiday achievement.

A holiday, like meeting up with friends, is a part of ordinary life that enriches us. The Covid pandemic might be teaching us not to take for granted things that really matter. Perhaps we shall get better at finding reasons to be delighted and to say, “Thank you”.

On holiday in Greece, a while back, I learnt that their word for “thank you” is “efcharisto”. It’s the word we also use in the Church to describe saying thank you to God for life itself. Perhaps, oddly, now is a time to learn that art, and the joy of gratitude.

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