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Blue Skies and Empty Chapels

Above me are blue skies.  The brilliant blue of the crayon called “Sky Blue.”  It isn’t often the skies are that vivid in colour.  Yet is seems they have been that colour for almost 40 days.  
The beautiful blue skies have blessed our days of lockdown.  I find that quite ironic.  While we talk about the world healing during lockdown, here those blue skies have declared their freedom,  Okay, that is a bit anthropomorphic, but the blue skies strike me as a statement—of beauty, of wholeness, of creative power.  Or perhaps they are really only a reminder of the time we have to notice them.
Those blues skies will remain with me as a reminder of the pandemic.

Around me is an empty chapel, echoing with the sounds of feet walking down the long aisle. The quiet and stillness we often hear in ruined abbeys is now present in our empty buildings and at our funerals. I have led funerals for very small numbers of people, but now, only a few allowed.  The silence of the empty chapel reflects the pain of saying goodbye to a loved one without a community of faith to support  those who grieve.  Of course, God’s love is with them, but at a funeral that love has seemed to me to be embodied by the community who gather to mark a person’s death, and life.  The conversations at the funeral, the gatherings after the service, the stories told, the hugs offered, the drinks shared, the voices raised in toasts, the silent tears, the roars of laughter are to me an offering of love.  We gather at funerals to offer the grieving love.  Instead, I hear the emptiness of the chapel.  That echo of emptiness will remain with me as a reminder of the pandemic.

We are seeking signs of hope, of number of cases declining, of communities not touch, yet, by Covid 19.  We are hopefully awaiting guidance for coming out of lockdown.  We are looking forward to a time when life will be more “normal.”  I wonder what will remain with us?  What memories will shape us?  What lessons will we have learned?  When I look at a blue sky, I will think, “Spring 2020.”  When I enter the stillness of the crem chapel, I will pause to remember the sadness of loss during a pandemic.  When I drive to a meeting on Thursday nights, will I pause to thank God for the NHS and key workers?  

What remains and what reminds may be two different things.  What reminds is blue skies, empty chapels, queues, Thursday nights, Zoom church.  What remains is God’s love, simple, complex, connecting, supporting.  

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