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ANNA HEYDONViewpoint from Anna Heydon 08/10/2021

Anna Heydon is a Development Worker for Imagine Norfolk Together in Great Yarmouth, a joint venture between the Diocese of Norwich and the Church Urban Fund, a national organisation set up by the Church of England to combat unmet needs in communities

 

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Coming Closer

 

Many years ago I spent some time one summer visiting Romanian charity workers to learn about the work they were doing to bring hope and change to orphanages in the country. Under the rule of Ceausescu, an extreme pressure on families to have more children coincided with severe economic downturn in Romania. This ultimately resulted in overcrowded and very poorly resourced institutions for children whose families couldn’t afford to keep them. I remember learning about and witnessing first-hand the significant negative impact which sensory deprivation and lack of interaction could have not only on emotional development but also the brain development in these children. I saw children functioning at much lower levels than their chronological age, often also displaying obsessive or repetitive behaviours, and with either an extreme craving for attention or what seemed to be a complete unawareness of anyone else.  The impact of this on these children and the country as a whole was long-lasting and profound
 
Dove rightWhile I am not suggesting that for most people in the UK circumstances over the last 18 months have been equivalent to a Romanian orphanage during the time of Ceausescu, nevertheless it is important to remember how fundamental interaction is to our functioning as humans. While many people still suffer the effects of ‘long Covid’ on their bodies, I would guess that some will also continue for some time to experience the impact of the social and emotional starvation they have experienced
 
From the very creation of humanity, it is clear throughout the Bible that God intended for us to be in relationship and communication with each other and with Him. This is what our bodies, minds and spirits were made for and need.  When humans broke their relationship with God, He ultimately sent Jesus to physically be with us on earth, demonstrating tangibly His desire to be close to us. God’s willingness to be with us hasn’t changed and the Bible tells us “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). God also calls us to reflect His relational nature in our own attitudes and behaviour: Jesus commanded us “as I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34)
 
As we enjoy a break from the necessity of lockdowns at least for now, let’s find healing and hope from coming close to God and to each other

 

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