The photograph is another taken by my friend Gill Henwood.
The rays of the sun bathing the daffodils and the graves in Colthouse Quaker Burial Ground, Cumbria, speaking to us of God’s hope, love and compassion in these dark days of personal and community sadness.
NATIONAL DAY OF REFLECTION
Today, March 23rd, we in the United KIngdom are holding a National Day of Reflection, March 23rd 2021—a year since the first Lockdown in the fight against Covid 19. This is a day to acknowledge grief and loss over the last year. It will be led by His Royal Highness, Charles, Prince of Wales. His Royal Highness said: “Whatever our faith or philosophy may be, let us take a moment together to remember those who have been lost, to give thanks for their lives, and to acknowledge the inexpressible pain of parting.
There is a call for all to take part in a minute of silence at 12 Noon, in gratitude for the devotion, kindness and care of NHS Staff and all other care workers and as a time for those who have lost loved ones , especially to COVID 19, to reflect, remember and grieve, whilst seeking the hope amidst the darkness. A hope which Christians and members of other faiths find rooted in God. It is a day which is close to Holy Week when Christians follow a yearly holy pilgrmage with Jesus to Calvary. We believe and proclaim that, in God the Father transformed earthly darkness into light; pain into joy; suffering and death into new life and He triumphed over all that is not love by God’s sacrificial, self-giving love in His Son Jesus from the Cross.
Against this background, we reflect on all that has happened since March 23rd last year whilst looking forward with renewed hope and trust to the time ahead. It is also a time when say thank you to all who gave their all in the care of others. It is also a time when we express sorrow for what as a nation and personally we didn’t do right but with a repentance that with the guidance of a greater power than frail humanity, we can get it better in the future. We dare to say, to God be the glory!
My friend, Michael Manley, Canon Missioner at Carlisle Cathedral, has written a beautiful and poignant hymn prayer which has both a personal and public context. It is a prayer which expresses both grief and hopefulness. It is deeply moving but each will make of it what they can and must. It will be sung for the first time at a Reflection Evensong in Carlisle Cathedral at 5.45pm on the 23rd and it can be accessed on Face Book – https://www.facebook.com/CarlisleCathedral/
We give them back to you O Lord
Those whom we loved – but could not hold.
We dare to trust they weren’t alone
For all are yours and all are known.
Through nursing care, we understand
You sat beside them, held their hand.
We thank you for the angels there
who day and night fulfilled our prayer:
to hear their sighs in whispered breath
and speak your peace to ease their death.
We leave them in your warm embrace
Now raised to life within your grace.
We could not mourn as others may
Nor offer all we hoped to say.
We could not gather all as one
To toast their name or sing their song.
Yet at your table now they dine
And with us join in bread and wine.
Lord help us on our lonely road
to voice the grief and share our load.
You know the pain the fear the loss:
You held our wounds upon your cross.
Then rose, still scarred, to life reborn,
In us, let hope, new purpose dawn.
We give them back to you and trust
Your love that gave them each to us.
You did not lose them when they came
Nor we, in letting go again.
Help us to see we’re all but one
that death’s defeated, love has won.
Creator, Spirit, Word made flesh
In you is life, and all is blest.
Receive our prayer and bring us home
By love transformed, your image own,
With all your saints who’ve gone before
To worship you for evermore.
© Chapter of Carlisle Cathedral, March 2021
It can be sung to the tune Melita (Eternal Father, strong to save), or Surrey