My mum is 90 today. We were supposed to be having a family trip on a boat on the river Ore near where she lives in Suffolk, but of course that has been cancelled. We'll Facetime later, when my sister is there to help with the technology. It feels hard that we can't gather, especially as Mum doesn't really understand why I can't visit.
The birthday and the absence have led me on to a reflection about how essential and how difficult it is to love unconditionally. The ideal expectation is of an absolute love between parent and child, but I think most of us know how hard that is, sometimes. The physical separation of lockdown is nothing compared to the emotional distancing which some children and parents experience, and I know from my own experience that these things are never smooth. And if it's hard always to love within families - and I don't underestimate how much harder it can be if you're locked in with your whole family for weeks on end - how much harder is it to love beyond the family!
But it does feel to me as though this lockdown is, in stripping us back to the essentials against the terrible backdrop of illness and death, teaching us something about the importance of unconditional love for all people and for the world. Not an unthinking love where we can be exploited and/or abused, but a reflective love which holds the fundamental humanity of everyone right at its heart, and remembers that we also are unconditionally loved by God. "And pointing to his disciples, Jesus said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'" (Matthew 12.50). So, Happy Birthday, Mum, and much love!
On a different note - does anyone have design skills which they would like to offer? We're in the process of developing a questionnaire for local people about St John's and the Bridge at Waterloo, and we would love it to be designed and smart. It would be great if there were hidden talents nestling in the congregation - let me know if you can help!
Finally today: Sunday was World Press Freedom Day, and to mark it, Euchar interviewed Shanon about his journalistic experience for the Waterloo Festival. Shameless plug, but do read it. It's fascinating, and at this time of the debasement of news, when reliable news is so vital for us all, it feels very relevant indeed. The Festival is shaping up to be something wonderful. Congratulations to Euchar, Eilidh, Beth and all who are part of it! We plan to invite people to be Patrons or Supporters again ... watch this space.
This comes with my love, as unconditionally as I can offer it - and prayers for when that's hard ...