On the 75th anniversary of VE Day last Friday, we were treated on television to some poignant moments and uplifting messages from people across the country. We saw Prince Charles lead a two minute silence and place a wreath at the war memorial in Balmoral to honour the war dead, accompanied by the spine-tingling lament of a lone bagpiper. With the help of the Royal British Legion, we heard some of our favourite TV personalities have long-distance telephone conversations with remarkable veterans and survivors of the war-time generation. These individuals, many of whom are members of our care home communities, recalled the hardships and uncertainty of living in close proximity to death and destruction 75 years ago: their resilience and acceptance of life’s challenges were remarkable. One of my favourite musical moments was “When the lights go on again all over the world” sung by Beverley Knight, towards the end of the BBC1 celebration concert.
The Queen gave a moving address in which she commented on the impact of the 2nd World War on everyone living through the time, and then she drew a comparison with our current situation and our joint endeavour to support each other through this worldwide crisis. She said: “our streets are not empty, they are filled with the love and care that we have for each other”.
It seems to me that our streets and communities are also filled with something else - a renewed spirit of prayer. Numbers of those attending on-line services and prayer sites are rising steadily as people find strength in re-emerging faith which perhaps had not been a significant part of their lives previously. A quarter of all British adults have tuned in to a religious service since lockdown began, and many people have turned to prayer for their families, friends, frontline services, sufferers of Covid 19, and other countries held in the grip of the pandemic.
William Law, an 18th century Church of England priest, wrote prayers and reflections on the love of God. One of his later works was titled The Spirit of Prayer Or The Soul Rising out of the Vanity of Time, into the Riches of Eternity and this is what he had to say about the spirit of prayer:
Letter from The Reverend William Law (1758)
The spirit of prayer is for all times and occasions; it is a lamp that is to be always burning, a light to be ever shining: everything calls for it; everything is to be done in it and governed by it, because it is and means and wills nothing else but the totality of the soul - not doing this or that, but wholly given up to God to be where and what and how He pleases.
We may feel helpless, hopeless, disorientated, depressed, disappointed, impatient with the current circumstances. We long for a solution and a return to normality, and we don’t know how to achieve that. One step which we can all take is to kindle the lamp of prayer on a daily basis, and keep it glowing through the darkness, as we work towards the lights going on again all over the world.
Sarah Bourne – 13th May 2020 email@example.com