Going on a bear hunt
New Zealand’s nationwide bear hunt during the COVID-19 lockdown made headlines worldwide. In the front windows of our homes resided a soft toy bear, or two, or even three. Our bears may have been old childhood toys, homemade creations, family heirlooms or op-shop finds. All and any bears were welcome.
The New Zealand Bear Hunt proposed to keep Kiwi children boredom-free during the national Level 4 lockdown. As children and adults alike explored their local neighbourhoods, adhering to the social distancing restrictions, these bears begun to represent more than childhood entertainment.
The bears began to symbolise national unity and the daring stance that we are not scared. Resonating with the popular childhood song – “We are going on a bear hunt. Gonna spot a big one. I’m not scared.”
Into the woods
When Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, announced that New Zealand would be going into lockdown for a minimum of four-weeks the screams of anxiety were audibly heard across the nation. Collectively we feared for our health, the economy and the stark implications of isolation.
However, as the weeks past, we crossed the frontier of physical isolation and begun to submit to our new normal of living. This new experience provided us with many new learning experiences. Some of us learnt to bake bread while others learnt the art of juggling working from home with varying levels of success.
Being forced to adapt to significant life challenges as a nation compelled us to embrace change.
A personal series of unfortunate events preceded my experience of the COVID-19 lockdown. The weeks before lockdown was undoubtedly some of my most stressful to date.
Firstly, my car battery died. A minor inconvenience which was easily repaired.
Secondly, my boyfriend required acute surgery and we spent three weeks living in between two hospitals at the mercy of the healthcare system. A slightly greater inconvenience and debatably also an easy repair.
Thirdly, the COVID-19 lockdown.
As we face life’s challenges, we often find ourselves in positions that we deem unseen, unfair, and ultimately inconvenient.
From personal experience, responses to challenges can often progress dynamically in a non-linear fashion between fear and acceptance. We progress through a symbolistic grief cycle as our psyche grapples with our perceived lost control.
Challenges and disappointments force us to face the reality that we are incapable of being the pilots of our own lives – our attempted navigation plans are futile.
These challenges – we either fear, fight or learn to graciously accept them.
Que a small personal anecdote.
During our hospital adventures, we met Kathy. She was an older lady who resided in the neighbouring curtained room.
One day, through the imprisoning orange-yellow curtains she confidently piped-up and asked, “Are you a Christian?”.
A little taken aback I replied “Yes.”
“Oh good. You know, God’s got this right?” she confidently replied.
In a time filled with so much uncertainty. Feeling isolated from our homes – family, friends, and church community. Kathy, unknowing of the challenges we faced, apart from the patient uniform donned unwillingly by my boyfriend, demonstrated to us the value of encouragement.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world give. Do not let your hearts be trouble and do not be afraid (John chapter 14, verse 27).”
The beauty of being in a relationship with Christ is that we are never alone. Although we may face challenges and are guaranteed to do so, we are promised to have a constant advocate by our side.
Throughout scripture, it is repeatedly written that we are not to be afraid or discouraged as God is with us and we are not alone. Furthermore, we can marvel at the peace which has been gifted to us. A beautiful truth to hold on to during life’s challenges.
During these unprecedented times that we find ourselves in, we are encouraged to accept Christ’s peace. More so, we are called to encourage one another to accept this peace – for our hearts to be untroubled.
We are not scared
So, as we continue to decorate our windows with bears, may we also liberally adorn our speech and actions with the encouragement of truth.
May we continue to sing in unity that we are going on a bear hunt, going to catch a big one but that we are not scared.
Kiwi-born with British roots, Jessica Gardiner drinks tea religiously while her dinner table discussions reverberate between the sovereignty of God, global politics, and the public health system. Having experienced churches from conservative to everything but, Jessica writes out a desire for Christian orthodoxy and biblical literacy in her generation. Jessica is married to fellow young writer Blake Gardiner.