We weren’t a religious household – not until, that is, my mother was seriously ill and began to wonder what life was all about. It must have been around this time I remember my first Good Friday. I was playing in the garden, and told that today was a special day for quiet, so would I please …? Since then, the importance of quiet, and thoughtfulness, and reflection on this day has been uppermost for me. Going to church has seemed the natural thing – but not to meet others, not even to sing hymns. Instead, church has been the place for reading the narrative of Good Friday, reading the Psalms Jesus had in mind as he died at Golgotha, the ‘place of a skull’; and simply thinking. Thinking not only of the ‘pains and insults thou hast borne for us’, as the prayer of St Richard says; but of all the other Calvaries the world over, through the ages, where human suffering has been cruel and unmerited.
But there’s only so much of that we can take. Just at present, the rising figures of Covid-19 deaths are overwhelming, if we think of each victim, each family, each bereavement. Our minds and hearts need respite. And that’s why in recent years, after the Good Friday service, we’ve travelled to somewhere beautiful like Sissinghurst Castle Garden. For consolation, for renewal. Not this year, sadly; but even the sight of blossom in the garden or down the street can help in times like this ….