By the Revd Canon Cate Edmonds
As many have said, we are living in a very strange time. The pandemic has had very strange effects on each of us. It has brought a variety of emotions to the fore. We have had to worship in many different ways from our own homes, joining with people we might not have joined with before. For some this has been energising, perhaps even regenerating their faith, for others if has been frustrating and disappointing. Many I know have missed being part of a physical community and found that the virtual community isn’t quite the same.
Of course there are many different virtual communities that we can belong to; no doubt many of you belong to several as I do. Some of the communities are good for bringing inspiring messages; others can be a bit confrontational. One community that I belong to, as do many of you I expect, is the Facebook community. It has its advantages and disadvantages. For me it is a great way to keep up with old acquaintances, parishioners and ex-students. It can be sadly, a platform for negativity. During this lockdown, however, there have been various ways of trying to lift people’s spirits and Facebook has been one of them. One message that was being distributed a week or so ago was asking people just to post a flower as a message, with the hope of flooding Facebook with beautiful images as a way to combat negativity and to lift our spirits I posted the picture you see here, a beautiful Hibiscus. This photo was taken last year when I visited Vanuatu, in the South Pacific working on a mission project. I remember it clearly; I was sat at breakfast looking out of the window on the hotel’s small front garden which opened out onto a very busy and busy street. This flower head seemed to be smiling at me and I couldn’t resist taking the photo. It brought joy to me then and it still does every time I look at the photo. Through the dust and heat of that busy street, the glory of God’s creation shone through.
I am often amazed at how an image, a snap shot, can raise the spirits or sometimes unfortunately dampen them. I have been bitterly disappointed, like I’m sure many have been, that what should have been peaceful demonstrations supporting the Black Lives Matter campaign has been overtaken by violence in some places. The images of aggression and vandalism fill our screens regularly. How heartened I was, and I’m sure you all were, at the image which had received plenty of cover of the man rescuing the fallen demonstrator; a human gesture of compassion regardless of colour. Amidst clamour and fear and aggression God given love shone through. That snap shot went viral, as they say, and no doubt lifted the spirits of many; something good shining through just like my flower in that busy street.
In this time of the pandemic it is important to look for those signs of compassion, signs of light and joy bursting through the anxiety and confusion of our present time. The light of Christ can’t be constrained and we can see it in many different ways, all we have to do is to look. It may be strange times, but even in strange times amazing and life giving things can happen. We hope and pray that one of those things will be that we can look to how we share compassion, love and inclusivity to all around us.