Prayer for Liverpool
Just over a year ago, Stella and I drove out of Hull for the very last time as residents, and struck out west to traverse the entire length of the M62 to journey’s end in Liverpool. It was the culmination of months of discerning, thinking, praying, discussing, agonising, interviews, phone calls, packing, sorting, throwing away, and cleaning. Not to mention the many emotional goodbyes. We were driving away from a very familiar place to, literally, another place. My emotions were a jumble as we drove along: a degree of wistfulness as I recalled so many happy memories of the previous two decades in the Hull area, regrets at the ‘banana-skins’ where I’d slipped up or let others down, excitement at what the new life in Liverpool would hold, and some apprehension as to how it would all pan out.
Looking back, I can honestly say that it has been a wonderful and exhilarating year, Covid-19 notwithstanding. The welcome from everyone at the ‘Red Rose’ end of the M62 has been so warm and embracing, for which you have my sincere thanks. This once ‘other place’ has become the place that truthfully I am pleased to call home.
The process of transitioning from a familiar place to another place is something that we all go through in one way or another on multiple occasions in our lives. Moving house is an obvious trigger, but it can happen in many other ways too. When someone close to us dies, life is never the same again, and suddenly we wake up and find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. Many of the daily and weekly patterns of life that involved that person have disappeared and often there is a yawning chasm. Memories of the once-familiar are both comforting and distressing; comforting because they remind us of good times and happy moments in the past, but distressing because we know that we can never re-live them in the present and future.
A recent return to Crosby Beach, after months without visiting it during lockdown, stirred all this stuff in my mind. Perhaps that is what the artist Antony Gormley intended with his ‘Another Place’ art installation? Although I doubt that he could have foreseen someone (it wasn’t me honest) bedecking one of his ‘Iron Men’ with a face mask! Perhaps he would have approved, however, as evidence that people are interacting with the art-work to pass some comment about the current situation. The irony, I thought, is that the Iron Men are well and truly socially distanced! What struck me though, is that our slow and laborious journey out from lockdown into a post-Covid world is a bit like travelling to ‘another place’. Some of the same emotions that I felt on driving along the M62 a year ago will be played out in each of our lives. There will be joy at recalling happy memories of the past pre-Covid days, perhaps mingled with regrets. There will be excitement as we re-connect with family, friends and special places, mingled with apprehension that the spectre of contagion will cast a shadow over our joie de vivre for a long time to come.
Mountains of literature have been written about transitioning, its different stages and the impacts that they have on each one of us. I am no scholar, I should add, but one of the most famous theories is that there are five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Whilst we are all different, the suggestion is that we all experience these in some form. So it is well to be alert to that as we all transition into the ‘new normal’ over the next few months and years and as we seek ways to handle that and grow through it. If it results in someone putting a disposable mask on an Iron Man, then perhaps that’s quite a therapeutic thing to do! Judging by the numbers of footprints in the sand, it has drawn the attention of many people.
Looking back on this time last year, I was so grateful that I was not alone in that place of transition. Stella was sat beside me in the car. To have companionship through any process of transition is indeed a great gift. Yet I realise that there are many of you who feel very isolated just at the very time when you are journeying to another place. My prayer is that you find in us at Liverpool Cathedral fellow travellers in whose company you can feel accepted and comfortable. One of our vision statements is for Liverpool Cathedral to offer a safe and generous place, in joy and sorrow. The process of journeying from a familiar place to another place inevitably throws up all kinds of joys and sorrows. So please seek us out, on-line or by phone at present, or in a visit for private prayer to the Lady Chapel. That way, we can travel alongside each other. Don’t be like the Iron Men, standing in isolation, each apparently contemplating their own past, present and future. Rather, let’s be pilgrims together to another place – whatever that other place may be.
While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of this website: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/prayer-resources.html.
Prayer for Liverpool
brought to you from Liverpool Cathedral
St James Mount
Liverpool Cathedral is a place of encounter.
Built by the people, for the people, to the Glory of God