Raylia Chadwick is the Reader Emeritus and Hon. Chaplain of Manchester Cathedral, she sent her reflections on these uncertain times through our contact form- available on any page of the website.
It is an idyllic spring day in the garden, my journal lying idly open before me – with closed eyes that feel the warmth of a noon day sun, and ears that take in the buzzing of the bumble bees and sweet singing of birds so tiny I could enclose one in the palm of my hand. As others have said before me nature is an open book, full of consciousness and knowledge, the Glorification of God for all to see.
Everything works by itself according to its Divine nature, moved by the Joy of the Spirit.
And what am I doing?
Not quite true. I pray for all affected by this terrible Covid Disease. The world is falling apart. And I ponder. It is the nature of a Reader to ponder.
Fragments of Gospel reflections flit in and out of mind …snatches of this and that never fully understood. Normally, on this day, I would be in the Cathedral chatting with visitors, delivery the Cathedral mid day prayers, facilitating a group, leading evening prayer…But to day is not a normal day. The Cathedral remains closed and silent, its clergy streaming daily prayers from their home setting on Facebook.
Yet what an opportunity this enforced isolation is! Oh the Joy of the Spirit unfettered by liturgy, truly accessible in the gentle stirring of a warm spring breeze – The Hebrew word for Spirit is ruach, the spirit of life itself, for the same word is used for breath, for wind. Surely the joy of the spirit – this ruach- moves in this garden; the Living Christ in whom you and I dwell and have our being. During Lent, just before ‘lock down’ in fact we had the Gospel account of the Samaritan woman at the well.
I am reminded of some of Jesus’ words to her…
‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…but the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth…’ (John 4:21-24)
The locked Cathedral, sadly isolated in the heart of the city, is deserted, telling its own 21st century story. Yet it looks like a relic from a bygone age. But Spirit and Truth will move where they will and somehow it is easier to ponder that, to experience its gentle movement, in a garden.
Ruach moves here, Divinely Ordained from the beginning of time, the phases of the seasons, Shakespeare’s ‘darling buds of May in next door’s garden, the gentle stirring of leaves, and the certainty of human goodness that the Neo Platonist Plotinus tells us is more beautiful than the morning and evening stars.
Are we on the verge of a new form of church where Spirit and Truth will shine in ever greater glory? A church for a different world? Where Resurrection will not seem a future Hope but a very Real Here and Now? What will Reader Ministry look like then, I ponder?
Of one thing I am certainly this warm and sunny day at this difficult time in all our lives – Let God prevail bringing us the Joy of the Spirit in Christ. There is no need to search for Him.
Reader Emeritus and Hon. Chaplain
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