Not the normal Mother’s Day

Today isn’t the Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday many of us were expecting. My family were planning a big tea party but now we are in our different homes in different parts of the country and unable to meet. We will get together online and on the phone but getting used to the new normal is hard because it is all so new.

In not too distant past children living in service would see their mothers just a few times a year and Mothering Sunday was one of those days when they would go back home, pick some flowers along the way and maybe take a cake that the cook had baked for them. It was their normal.

The reading from Luke’s gospel (Luke 2.33-35) that was set for today reminds us that in caring for family and by extension, caring for anyone has the possibility of pain. Simeon the old man in the temple says to Mary that Jesus will do great things but ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ Simeon is being prophetic and these words may have come back to Mary as she saw her beloved son leave the family business and gradually come to the attention of the religious authorities as he preached and healed people in their home town and beyond. Mary was there when her son was put to death on the cross.

Mary’s story is one of sadness and loss but it is also a story of hope. In these days leading up to Easter we are reminded that life is not always easy. This year with the growing fear and anxiety about the corona virus and the challenges of staying indoors for the next few months we do know that life is going to have challenges.

But there is hope.

In the Christian story Easter is a time of despair and loss as Jesus is killed and all hope is lost. But that is not the end of the story. On Easter day comes the resurrection and all is made new.

We are living through difficult times. It is not Easter Day yet. But we know it is coming. It is always darkest before dawn and sometimes the dawn seems to be long time coming but it will come.

Normal is only temporary.

In the meantime, practice kindness. This poem ‘Lockdown’ has gone viral. It was written by a Franciscan Monk in Ireland earlier in the week.. So let’s practice kindness and notice the birds singing. Maybe try singing ourselves.

Lockdown
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.
Richard Hendrick March 13th 2020