Reflections from The Minster

26th July 2020

Pam Spychal reflects on the changes to life at the Minster

REFLECTIONS 08-2020AThere is something extra special about the Minster at the moment. Since the 15th of June we have been opening every day from 10 am to midday for individual private prayer. This has been possible because of the dedication of a small band of volunteers, who follow all the current advice and procedures to make our visitors feel as safe as possible. Thank you, volunteers
The three main doors are flung wide open for ventilation. This heightens the sense of space and airiness. The view through the north door is green and lush and offers a tangible connection to the world and creation
Often we see people walk by the north door. Sometimes they stop and look in. We wave ‘hello’. Occasionally they come round and enter through the south door, the official entrance. People are surprised at the size of the building. “I thought it was a cathedral” said a young woman from Finland
Visitors like to wander around, following the arrows, counterclockwise as per instructions. One family, a dad, three children, and two dogs(!), walked round three times and left with a Parish Life magazine, so they can think about maybe choir or bell ringing, sometime in the future
REFLECTIONS 08-2020BWe do not recognise a surprising number of people. They come in and sit quietly in the pews and we hush our voices respectfully. The gentle, flickering lights on the candle-stand are a popular focus for many people’s private prayer
Lots of old friends enter too. Then it’s an opportunity catch up, to check how people are, to swap stories of lockdown and, well, lockdown

The Minster is quiet, most of the time. No talking, or singing, or organ music. This is sad. It makes us think about all the things we cannot do just now. But, it is also very calming and there is time to consider the history of the building. It has survived many plagues, a civil war, and almost total destruction. Now it is helping us to weather the storm of COVID-19. There is time to think about the future and to listen for the ‘still small voice’, which will surely guide us into that future
REFLECTIONS 08-2020CWhile sitting at the welcoming desks (one for each volunteer, appropriately socially distanced), there is much on which to rest the eyes. The huge stone arches, cunningly built and slightly miraculous, stretch away into the shadows of the Lady Chapel. The gaudy apparel of the organ pipes peep shyly from the north transept, as if to say, “I’m here! Ready when you are!”  Several of John Dashwood’s ‘Stations of the Cross’ are visible, reminding us of a suffering much greater than our own
Then, suddenly, on Sunday 12th July, something completely different! The Minster is open again for worship. A few preparations are required: making sure there are enough places for people to sit safely; extra hand gel; a notebook for names and numbers (like in the restaurants); and some liturgical adjustments by the Rector
Fifty or more people turned up, regulars from each of our churches and congregations, visitors from other denominations, some new faces and children too. There was no singing, but there was the organ – glorious! There was no procession, but there were priests. There were many friends missing, but remembered in our prayers. There was no tea and biscuits, but there was Holy Communion – a wafer, carefully, and silently, ‘dropped’ into our hands by the Rector
When you’re ready, come and join us, on Sunday, or any day of the week. We will do our best to help you feel safe
also published in Parish Life magazine


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