Last Sunday was a very beautiful day. I headed out mid-morning from the house and took a different route than usual, still intending to end up on one of the link pathways onto the Forth and Clyde Canal for the final lap back home. The first thing I noticed was that there are now at least six post boxes in Bishopbriggs sporting brightly coloured, crocheted tammies, with bobbles on top, and so, it would seem, the yarn bombers of Bishopbriggs are multiplying. The canal was quite busy with strollers, runners, dog walkers and cyclists, but still it was a pleasant Sunday morning jaunt, in bright sunshine, with a lovely warm breeze on my face.
Getting nearer to home again, just as I passed by the Episcopal Church of St. James the Less, I noticed crudely scrawled signs on a board, and on the ground, with arrows directing people to what was described as a “Wall of Hope and Sorrow”. There were also footsteps chalked on the ground, and so, intrigued by this, I followed the footsteps round to the back of the church, and discovered that the wall was in fact the wire mesh fence at one end of the Bishopbriggs Fire Station. There was a white t-shirt hanging on the fence also bearing the words “Wall of Hope and Sorrow”. Apart from that, the fence was covered with different coloured clothes pegs and different coloured ribbons. I’m not sure if the pegs were for hope, and the ribbons for sorrow; vice-versa, or a mish-mash of both. There were only two written messages on the wall, one in remembrance of someone who had died, and the other from a child expressing happiness for her new kitten. Hope and sorrow can take many forms. Near to the wall, there was a labyrinth chalked onto the ground. A labyrinth is a circular path leading into, and out of, a central spot, and in spirituality a labyrinth can represent the journey to the centre of the true self, where God dwells, or perhaps just the journey of life, which is never a straight line. So, you never know what is on your doorstep, and it was a nice little detour which added a new element to my walk. Next time I may bring a peg or a ribbon to add to the wall. I may also leave myself time to walk the labyrinth.
The night before, we had our own experience of hope and sorrow. In solidarity with Father Gareth, we gathered at 8pm to watch the France v Wales, 6-Nations Rugby encounter. Wales, and Father Gareth, had high hopes of a Grand Slam victory, and that’s the way it was looking right until the end. But then, hope turned to sorrow in the last seconds as Wales somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as, with the last play of the game, France went over for a match winning try. Father Gareth was desolate, and even attempted to accuse Father Antony of jinxing it by saying it was in the bag. Now comes the irony, because the week before, Father Gareth delighted in Ireland beating Scotland, but now he has to depend on Scotland beating France next Friday night, so that Wales still win the Championship. So, should we be in solidarity with him or not? Watch this space!
At the time of writing, hope and sorrow are rearing their heads again, after the court ruling yesterday that the Government overstepped the mark; and that the blanket ban imposed on public worship, even when gyms and pubs were open, went beyond what they were legally able to do, and that churches could re-open immediately. We await clarification from the Bishops Conference as to what this means, as the judge also stated he wasn’t saying that churches must open, or were safe to open, only that the Governments actions were unlawful. So, while we hold out the hope that this signals a sooner than expected return to normality, with a certain sorrow as to what may have been needlessly lost, we must still imagine that all the safety protocols still need to be in place, and that opening will still depend on the very generous efforts of our volunteers. Once again, watch this space! We are all well enough in Bishopbriggs. Father Justinian was scheduled to have his second Covid-19 vaccination, but then had to cancel is it was too close to his second cataract surgery. All in its own time. So,
as ever; protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.