Curate’s Letter: The show must go on. March 2020

“The Show Must Go On” was recorded by Queen in 1991. ‘The show must go on’ is a phrase that has been coming back to me time and time again as the political, cultural and emotional climates we are in have changed so rapidly out of all proportion in the past few weeks. Yet, if we really are to ensure that the show does go on, we need to self-isolate for as long as is medically required. That, at this current point in time [written 23 Mar 2020], does not mean staying in one’s home with the windows shut and the door locked. But it does mean keeping one’s distance from others to ensure there is no point of contact. And that is difficult for most in our society who desire physical contact, in one way or another. 

My own thoughts and prayers that have surfaced over the past few days are to ensure that my mental health and that of my parishioners (i.e. you) is kept positive. We may have seen people desperately rushing from Paris into the surrounding countryside, or heard of people travelling from further south on this island wishing to self-isolate in the Highlands. And that has caused great anxiety and distress. There are stories of people going home to help with lambing, and infecting those around them. There has been a lot of anger and fear.

But there are also people willing to help and groups forming in and around Caithness to help those who are self-isolating. Our community is coming together, it is having to slow down, and not rush about quite so much. We are all having to think in different ways, in how to connect with friends and family, while protecting ourselves from this unseen virus. 

Church has changed beyond anything we’ve ever known. I’m sure that you, like me, have heard many a time “But we’ve always done it this way,” or “People don’t like change,” or “There have been too many changes in recent months.” Stock phrases that have been used all over the world and in every congregation and that never seem to go out of use. Well. Here we have a change that none of us has any control over. We can no longer worship in the age-old way that we have become accustomed to. That comfort of knowing what you would get has gone. The proverbial rug has been pulled from under our feet. 

Being in this situation doesn’t stop us engaging with Christ or the Church. It just means that we need to be more creative. And in a very technological age, this means that social media is being used more and more. I don’t need to be reminded that not all of the parishioners of St John’s and St Peter’s are not on social media, but I would strongly encourage those that are to engage with what the Scottish Episcopal Church is trying to do. By ‘liking’ their page or ‘The Northern Episcopalians’, you will be notified when there is a new post. Posts that are designed to help each of us engage with prayer and reflection.

Being creative about how we worship God and his worth to us means that we need to come up with different ways that we can explore our relationship with Him and vice versa. Ways that allow us to pray through our faith, and build it in ways that perhaps haven’t been so easy to engage with while we were free to go where we liked and do what we liked.

Jane Williams writes that real life is something we are poorly equipped to understand. Our lives as we knew them, are not the same as we are beginning to know and for the foreseeable future. Like Mary, in the garden at the empty tomb, on Easter morning, we wish to see something familiar and are presented with something different. We don’t all wish to accept what is being proffered, but the decision of how we decide to engage with the Church and with Christ must be up ourselves. 

Williams goes on to write: “By ourselves we do not have the power to see or understand God’s vitality. By ourselves, we plod on, trying to be satisfied with the poor imitation that we call ‘life,’ which is all about separation and death.” At Easter time we are given the choice of connecting with God through the risen Christ. We are given new sight, a way in to the real life of God. God is with us. 

The following is a poem recently written by someone who was thinking of all that was happening in the world. To my mind, there is one element missing, and that is of spirituality and our link to our God. 

And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised,
and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, 
and were still.
And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. 
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently. And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, 
and heartless ways, 
the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
~Kitty O'Meara~

With every blessing, Ellie.

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