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In his book ‘Canoeing in the Mountains’, Tod Bolsinger tells the story of American adventurers Meriweather Lewis and William Clark. 
Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the West of America, finding a river-route across the continent linking the two oceans, the explorers and their small army set off.
In canoes.  
Because why wouldn’t you? So far, all the American soil they had seen or heard about was relatively flat. Until now, travelling through the great flat plains and meadowlands was possible easily by foot and by boat. And if a river route across a continent was what you wanted to find, then the most obvious thing to do was get some canoes, find some people who could paddle and head upstream to see what lay at the other end…
Except at some point the ground was not so flat any more. 
Except at some point, far on the horizon appeared a mountain range. 
Except at some point everything changed. 
And when you want to climb a mountain, you have to rethink your relationship with the canoe. 
Remember a couple of weeks ago when we were all merrily sailing through life. Sure, there were some choppy waters every now and again, and sometimes we got caught in the wash of a large tanker which drove unceremoniously across our charted course…but we were basically still navigating through a world which was known and familiar. 
And then. 
And then everything changed.
Education, the economy, family life, shopping, entertainment, healthcare, policing…even Ant and Dec have had to change their format!
And we find ourselves dazed and confused at the pace of the change, the new nature of government, the lack of stability and the feelings we feel as we look at our old canoes are confusing and eluding of identification. 
Scott Berinato wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review which names the feeling. 
It is grief. 
Grief has stages (they are not linear, more cyclical) but understanding them will help us know what to do with the canoe, and give us a clue as to how we might be able to thrive on the  (isolated) mountainside.
First comes shock
Nobody was expecting this! Even though we have watched the wave coming as we watched the news from China, and then Iran, and then Italy, it somehow seemed distant. It was about other people, not us…the BHAM!…school’s were closed. We had to work from home. We had to queue for toilet roll. 
The shock is disorienting and destabilising. It throws some of us into a frantic whirlwind of activity. It throws some of us into a heap on the ground. It makes some of us resentful of the canoe that has been so faithful to this point. It makes some of us angry about the mountain we now sit on…but all of the reactions are ‘gut reactions’, they are natural and often protective, but they do not feel under our control. 
(Because they’re not)
Then comes denial
“This can’t be happening”, “It can’t be real”. Anyone who has ever suffered the loss of a close friend or family member will know this strange sensation. You still expect them to call on the phone, you somehow hope to awaken and discover it has all been a horrible dream. 
But what about now-19? What does this stage feel like?
It feels like an assurance that it will be over next week. That someone will create a vaccine in a fortnight. That while all the other people should stay indoors it is perfectly reasonable for you to have a BBQ on the beach. That you will be immune to the reaches of the virus because of your faith. 
Climbers in denial still cling to their canoes in the desperate hope that they will discover the new terrain to be nothing more than a nightmarish figment of their imagination.  They refuse to countenance a new way, a new rhythm…a new reality.
Then comes the wave
A wave of anger. (Anyone feeling angry that it was allowed to happen, that nobody else reacted quickly enough, that some idiots stockpile, that your family are not helping out enough?)
A wave of sadness. (Anyone missing people? Feeling low about the loss of company or work or laughter? Even though it was the correct thing to do to cancel that event, the sense of sadness still lingers and trumps the rational agreement).
Maybe for you the wave is frustration. Anxiety. Fear. Panic.
Maybe the wave is future oriented? Maybe we are already grieving in anticipation of the way the world will have changed when we step outside again. What shops will have disappeared? Will we still be able to travel? Will I ever feel safe shaking the hands of a stranger who might one day become a friend? Will the kids grow up in a world where this is a part of daily life?
The wave can make you idolise your canoe and set up a monument in their honour.
The wave can make you do something rash and burn the boats.
The monument will keep you living in the (rose-tinted) past and prevent you from experiencing the joys of today.
You will regret the bonfire. It might cleanse your feelings today, but you will miss the canoe tomorrow. It might be useful no longer, but that doesn’t mean it has no value to you. 
So what did Lewis and Clarke do? How did they traverse the mountains? What enabled them to keep on going until they were able to jump in the spray of the Atlantic waves?
They moved onto the next stage. They accepted their new reality and began to work within it. 
They hired mountain guides. They learned to hunt goats rather than fish. They learned to cook the new types of vegetation they found. They figured out a way to carry their essentials over land while leaving behind things which were no longer of any use.
According to Jack Uldrich, they were able to do this because of an unwavering commitment to what he called “Higher Purposes”.  They never thought of themselves as canoists. They thought of themselves as adventurers. They never wanted glory for themselves (you hardly ever read one of their names without the other’s coming right along behind it) but wanted to build community, to share leadership, to value everyone on the trip with them, to learn as they explored.
If you find yourself dazed and confused. That is ok. Everything just changed! The dust will settle one day and you will feel less disoriented.
If you feel discover you are in denial, give yourself space and time to accept the reality. It is not easy, it is not pain-free, but it is healthy and it will help. 
If you feel like the wave is pulling you under…reach out…stretch out your hand and grab on to someone else. Call someone. Ask someone. The wave won’t get any smaller or pass any quicker, but it will pass and then you will find yourself holding on to someone one who will understand and will help you stay afloat. 
And then…once you’re ready…cling on to your higher purposes. Lift your eyes to the One who will sustain and give strength to endure. Remind yourself of the presence of the One who has called you to keep following, to worship, to love yourself and your neighbour in whichever terrain you explore…and keep going.
You’re doing great.