Reflection by Susan Bridge
While we are finding our new routines, staying connected at a physical distance is the current challenge. And so I love hearing about the imaginative and kind and silly things my fellow grads are doing to maintain social connections. Last week there was Virtual Bar Night, when MCR committee members delivered drinks to students in their rooms and then went online to drink together. Now, there is a triumph of the human spirit! On Sunday there will be the two part webcast of Homemade Pizza for Dummies. You can order ingredients and then follow along as your fellow students instruct you remotely on what to do in your kitchen (in the morning, making the dough; in the evening, toppings and oven time). There are also paint-your-own egg kits (‘vegan’ wooden eggs, of course) and virtual chocolate tasting (the chocolates are real, individually delivered by the chocolaterie, the tasting notes streamed). Amid the fun, the committee have also organised generous and practical help, including bulk orders of household staples for students staying in Oxford.
It is a source of pride and comfort to me to see how people in college and around the world are looking for ways to help each other. We have to wait for the experts to work on the medical responses, and there are so many things we can’t do, but still people are getting on with practical, do-able things.
One of the most familiar images of love in the Christian tradition is Jesus washing the feet of his friends during his final meal with them, on the night of his arrest. What interests me is that the gesture was not a big miracle. It was a simple and human expression of love and caring. It was do-able by everyone. Jesus chose an example of service that could be followed by his friends. Initially they were a bit embarrassed by it, but then they could make it their own as a way of sharing the divine love.
In our current crisis it is more difficult to help each other: what we must not do is reach out and touch one another. But in some ways helping is easier now. So many are in so much need, and we are less embarrassed about offering, and receiving, help. As countries close their borders and there is an impulse for hoarding and self-protection, the hope that we can help one other is still there. There is the chance to wash one another’s feet by sharing our pizza knowledge. Thank God.
We pray with St Anselm:
Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you;
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness;
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead,
your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us;
in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness,
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us. Amen.