March 2021 - Death and new birth

'My whole body and soul just unclenched' 

Tweet – 20 January 2021


For some it was a moment when the sadness of defeat was finally faced; but for others the inauguration of President Biden on 20th January came as a great relief, and with the hope of a brighter, safer future. The great 'unclenching' of a nation (and this tweet made me laugh out loud) must have been nigh audible in some communities.

On this side of the Pond, life continues to be an exhausting groundhog-day of routine without end – eat, sleep, repeat. For many of us, it is not that we are doing more or working harder, but that purpose, rhythm and familiarity has been somewhat neutered. One of the long term effects of the covid pandemic that I can foresee is that so many of us will have spent so long hunched over their computers at home, working in less than ideal surroundings, whilst trying to fend off children, domestic distractions and the biscuit tin (the term 'covid-pounds' was quick to enter the lexicon), that we can feel the tension in our shoulders, back and hips. And those who are not constrained by work, and would usually be enjoying the freedom of retirement, are being similarly confined. Across our country I sense there is a weariness that is the result of an ongoing 'clenching'.

Do we need a national breakout, a day of mourning and lament, a concerted purpose of will, a celebration of some kind? Our war on this virus is, for most of us, marked by inactivity. We don't go out and do battle, we are not being called to arms, but we are being enlisted to stay at home. Instead of a fight or flight response, we are being asked to freeze. There is a pandemic of anxiety, and society can experience 'emotional volcanoes' every so often when the underlying pressure is released and relieved in chaotic ways. Perhaps every community needs some kind of corporate, cathartic lament; a place to pour grief and disappointment, anger and frustration. The cycle of death and new birth, Good Friday and Easter, is written into all life and it is a bigger story that we live. Our dreams and plans have been crucified and we may feel as though we inhabit the tomb of purposelessness. But a grain of wheat must first fall into the ground and die before it can rise again and bear much fruit.

So I invite you to observe the clenching, experience and name the tension, articulate the anxieties, own the feelings, lament the loss and celebrate any small victories or achievements. We are currently inaugurating our own term of office, and when we look back on this time in years to come, we may yet find reason to be grateful for many things. Gifts and graces do not always come to us wrapped in pretty packages, but when the storm has passed, look for the rainbow.

Nick Bird
your Rector

This letter from Revd Nick Bird appeared in the March 2021 issue of The Grapevine