The moment is now

By Mary Green, from the Silence in the Cathedral Group - 27 September 2020
Norwich Cathedral (c) Bill Smith

The moment is now. How many times have we heard this phrase. Re-orientated in lockdown by low air pollution, less cars and more walking, we have all tasted something of what the earth and our lives as custodians of it, could be. We want a new normal. So does the Earth. Additionally, as Christians, we have had to find ways in these challenging and lonely times, to seek worship, connection, even communion  with God in ways that are less familiar. For many of us, irrespective of our faith or our beliefs, silence has become more relevant and more practiced in the stillness of our homes, gardens and countryside.

I have heard people say that they quite enjoyed lockdown, compared to what we have now. They found a routine, took exercise and accepted that for a period of time everyone had to do something that was exactly the same. Whilst we know that for some it was harrowing, intense, frightening and a tormenting downhill rollercoaster, it was believed that if each person behaved with a sense of personal responsibility towards the pandemic and towards those in their care during the lockdown period, we could together beat the virus, and at the time, we did.

Driving past Norwich Airport and seeing the fleet of aeroplanes that have been grounded there since March, it dawned on me why this present period, since coming out of lockdown, feels so much more difficult. Aeroplanes represent excitement, risk, adventure, opportunity, re-uniting, new beginnings, new horizons, professional expansion or even ’the world’s my oyster’. They help us, independently, to push our boundaries, reach our potential, spread our wings. But all of that dimension of our lives is on hold - indefinitely. Those planes metaphorically represent us and no one knows what the future holds either for us or for them. In truth, it could be that some of those playfully independent days are over or at least a long way off, and together, we need to find a way, like we did in the silence of lockdown, to wait in the silence, prayerfully, intentionally and in the words of President Obama: Daring to Hope.

Nurturing our understanding and use of silence has never felt so relevant, so important or so inclusive as it does now. For over twelve years, Silence in the Cathedral has united spiritual people in the silence of this beautiful sacred place as the seasons of the year pass within the rhythm of the universe. In some ways it replicates the lockdown. Just for an hour, the silence represents a lockdown of voices, doctrines, opinions and  projections, and through that, through our personal spiritual responsibility, we are all in something together. The moment is now.

Jenna is playing the gongs at the beginning and end of the silence  If you have not heard this sound before in the Cathedral, it is phenomenal. It literally takes the heart and soul to the universe, to the mystery, to the unknown. Prayer, for me, has never felt so connected.

Silence in the Cathedral will take place at the Norwich Cathedral on Monday September 28 at 7pm.

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