Today was a mixture of getting things done and helping people mourn.
The things we got done were especially around lists of people to keep in contact with and working out how we might live stream a service through Facebook on Sunday morning. These are such strange days and even when one task is completed there seem a whole host of unexplored ones to consider. At prayers first thing we talked about reaching out to our community and there are so many ways that we could respond to the need. But there's this huge pile of things to get done.
What hit home most today were all the different ways in which this crisis is creating loss and bereavement for so many people in so many different ways.
We phoned a bride whose banns we were reading before her wedding in May. Due to the church closure this cannot now be done. The reading of banns is an ancient and essential part of a church wedding. So now the only route to a church wedding is a special licence. Even if you get one of those the service itself can only have five people present and one of them is the Vicar. Endless happy days have been trashed with all the sense of loss that goes with that.
Later I went into school to see the year six children on what might be their last day at primary school. The two classes were collapsed down to one by children already being kept away from school. Their teacher when I arrived was reading a letter to the children from the school and finding it hard to get to the end of it because of the emotion. The hope was that there would be other days that they would share if they do return towards the end of next term. We talked about Psalm 23 and Jesus being with them wherever they are and whatever they do. One of the parents had donated chocolate rolls to be handed out. But this wasn't the way their last day at school was meant to be. They had been robbed of that moment, of a proper transition at this important moment of their life.
In the office we had a conversation about who had lost the best holiday. Our walk along the Camino in Northern Spain is definitely not happening but that was trumped by a trip to Florida. In the great scheme of things to lose a holiday does not seem so much but it's still another loss to get used to. Like the loss of freedom to go to the pub tonight as the country has closed them all.
All of these, of course, are nothing compared to the real loss that is inflicted by this awful, awful virus. The loss of human life. For those who have to watch a loved one die behind the barriers of an isolation ward and then have no chance even for a proper funeral. This time of extraordinary pressure and pain has made us all question what is really important in life. At the end my prayer is that we will have learnt a lot about what really matters and how we should truly seek to live well.