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One of the downsides of publications such as this magazine is the lapse in time between my writing these thoughts each month and the publication and distribution of this magazine,

            As I write, it was last week when the number of lives lost to coronavirus in the United Kingdom reached the stark and harrowing total of 100,000. And by the time you read this that figure will be even higher. Most of us living today have not before experienced such a high death toll among our families, friends, neighbours, communities and countries.

Every one of those people who died was a valued and unique being, whose passing has left loved ones bereaved and in pain. Grief is always hard, but some circumstances have made bereavement as a result of the virus even harder than normal. Many have died without being able to spend their final days and hours with family members and friends. Many are grieving without the comfort of loved ones nearby. Funerals have been restricted to a few mourners, wakes forbidden and the solace of time spent with others remembering and retelling stories of lives past has been taken from us. The comfort of a hug or other physical demonstration of friendship has been stripped away from many.

This year, this Lent, we may well feel that we have joined Jesus in a place of wilderness, with the people and things we love inaccessible. When everything we are used to is taken away, we become deeply aware of our priorities in life. What is it we are missing most? What are we longing to have restored to us?

            Lent has always been a time when Christians have chosen to relinquish some of the comforts in life in order that they can pay attention to the things that really matter: their relationship with God and with others. One of the positive things to have come out of the pandemic is that people have become ever more aware of the importance to them of family and friends. When they are not with us, we really miss them.

            That’s why death is so hard, because we know we have no more time on this earth to spend with them, though many believe that we shall be reunited in a time and place yet unknown. When I first started conducting funerals, I was saddened by just how many families had had splits and breakdowns, a falling-out perhaps years ago that was still having an impact.

            The pandemic has faced so many of us with death. It reminds us that sometimes it is too late to restore a broken relationship in this world because death is final.

            Forgiveness is a powerful thing. As coronavirus concentrates our minds on what is really important, maybe one area we need to think about is broken relationships and how we might restore them before it is too late. Forgiveness is not just a gift for the one forgiven; it sets the forgiver free too.


With best wishes


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