The Bridge between the Years
Between the bell and bell a flower, a brazen calyx of no noise
Silence is the bridge between the years, the cusp
We have been exploring Quaker style silences in my college chapel, and this took a new twist in our latest lockdown. We were due to meet at 5.15pm for 20 minutes online silence, which none of us had ever tried before. I duly logged on to Teams and waited in silence, and no one else appeared during the whole time. I felt a bit foolish, having initiated something that no one turned up to (college chaplains have to get used to this) but I had enjoyed being in silence, and went back to my emails, when I found that the Principal's Assistant was fervently looking for me, and that several people were gathered in silence in another Teams meeting room. In fact, they were all enjoying it so much that no one would break the silence, and they might have stayed there indefinitely if I hadn't been called in to release them. So this was Oxford in Seventh Week: people really needing silence, delighting in it, feasting on it.
2020, strange as it has been, has brought the gift of silence. The planes stopped, the traffic went quiet, the schools closed. Silence came over the land. People went for walks because there was nothing else they were allowed to do. And what is coming round the corner, what are we looking forward to in 2021?
I have absolutely no idea because 2020 has proved the futility of predictions. But I am sure that silence will be our helper in whatever is to come. Silence which gives us a breathing space and a chance to open ourselves to the Infinite. And if you are looking for a New Year's resolution, why not try being silent with friends?
The Revd Susannah Reide