Covid-19, lockdown (UK), confinement (FR) and sheltering in place (US) as well as the Zoom-boom, YouTube and Facebook live services have had various effects.
For one thing life has become busier. While travel is been curtailed, instead we can attend things virtually and so be in two places at one time. So a couple of weeks ago we attended the Keswick Convention's addresses from Christopher Ash on the Psalms in the morning, UFM's Summer Conference in the afternoon then did our own work in the evening.
We can also visit churches virtually. I think I mentioned how the first Sunday of UK lockdown I realised that I could attend several UK churches on the same day as well as our service here if I got the timings right. I only did that once.
We've also had great support from various agencies. Our Mission held online prayer meetings each week and the Evangelical Movement of Wales also holds weekly meetings to inform and encourage people.
On Sundays I get a happy list of notifications from churches across the UK and France, and some in the USA, whose services are being streamed. Two stand out from this week.
The first is a friend I've never met, a US worker in Spain who is working to start a presbyterian church in Toledo. We got in contact when he planned to stop over at our church service on his way through France but the timings didn't work at all. This week I saw that his service was online on YouTube, so I watched for a while - and discovered hymns and songs in Spanish. I don't think I'd ever sung a song or a hymn in Spanish, apart from la bamba and la cucaracha, of course.
The second was yesterday. I spotted that a man I heard once giving a talk on Welsh church history in our county of Flintshire (I think) was preaching online for the Welsh church in Mold. He's a fine chap, so I thought I'd listen in. I was relieved to find that I can still understand Spanish and Welsh. Welsh more easily than Spanish.
There is a cost to this though. Normally, in order to attend different things you have to leave other things behind. You travel to Keswick and you're only there. You travel to the mission conference and you're only there. You visit a church and you're not at any other church.
At present we can flip from one thing to another and be present in lots of different places and it isn't necessarily very helpful! I've become more forgetful than usual, even with the help of rigourous computer diary-keeping. It only works if you remember to look at it!
Not only that but it makes you busier and more immobile than usual. Your soul gets fettered to your office stool and you lose the brain down time that travelling imposes on you.
So we're taking a break. For three Sundays other guys are preaching in Bordeaux and our online participation will be minimal. As little as we can reasonably make it. We can't go away for three weeks, but we can lie low.
We have been able to go away on holiday, but now that we're meeting physically again I am reluctant to be away on a Sunday. Still we spent four nights in Biarritz and Pat went to San Sebastian with our friend Sally. Soon we plan to spend a short week in a gîte in the countryside with friends from the choir.
I hope to get down to some proper reading again. I have a big backlog! And some books in Welsh to read.