As the lockdown continues towards the third week, it feels to me increasingly that we are being thrown back upon our own resources. So many of the things which kept us going and which gave us meaning have been taken away, and despite the amount of stuff on the internet (if we are lucky enough to have a good broadband connection), it feels to me more and more as if there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Some of us are still working very hard in deeply challenging circumstances, but for most this situation is one of fear and vulnerability in the midst of frightening news and strange quietness.
How different it is from last year's Holy Week. This time last year, Waterloo Bridge had been turned into a garden by Extinction Rebellion. The church was being happily shared by a crowd of committed climate change activists, and the talk was all of shared action and hope for a better world. This year, we are on our own, in our homes, wondering what will happen next. The only similarity I can see is that we can hear the birdsong this year as well as we could last year, because there is no traffic.
Last year, the emphasis in Holy Week for me was on Jesus' arrest - the recognition that he had to take radical action to bring about a different world. This year, I am thinking much more about his solitude and his powerlessness.
This year, I am thinking that the events of Holy Week were things which were done to Jesus rather than things he did himself: all he could do was wait while decisions about his life and death were made around him. He led captivity captive, he gave his back to the smiters: he was wounded for our iniquities.
The story for me this year is one of solitude and loneliness. But I am comforted and take courage from the multitude of connections which are emerging, and I am reminded of the words of Jesus on the cross as recounted in John's Gospel:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, 'Woman, here is your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.'
So. The Triduum (Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday) is upon us, and we can participate together in lots of ways. You are very welcome to create your own Garden of Gethsemane in your home, where you will be invited to place a little bread overnight on Maundy Thursday. I would love to receive photos of that for the website/WhatsApp.
Chris and Emily Clarke have a long tradition of creating their own Easter display from blown eggs - see the picture above. Why not try that yourselves too, to make your own Easter garden? https://www.wikihow.com/Blow-Out-Eggs Again, photos welcome!
Our Holy Week services are here and we have set up a new COVID-19 Resources page here with lots of useful information about St John's, support available and ideas for wellbeing.
Finally - yesterday was the 250th anniversary of William Wordsworth's death. When he wrote his lines on Westminster Bridge, this parish was still the fields he refers to... And, yesterday, Westminster Bridge was probably as quiet as the day he wrote this poem.
Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
With my love and prayers, as ever,