Kirk Braddan

The Vicar's Letter

From the November edition of Branch, the Kirk Braddan parish magazine


While in one respect it seems an age since life was the normality we used to understand, the past seven months have disappeared in a flash. And, as I write this, we are still enjoying a place of incredible peace and security unlike our brothers and sisters in other countries.

We are free to mix, shop, party, congregate and otherwise enjoy life in all its colours. May this remain so until at least Christmas. Those in the UK are unable to have these freedoms; their Christmas may be even lonelier this year, and their Remembrance services are curtailed in equal fashion. We must be both relieved at our fortune, but also mindful of the pain that causes others.

This is even more the case as border issues dominate much of the news. Too many people endure the separation of the water which comes between this island and those across the waves. For those of us who moved here prepared for that, we are grateful for the compassion shown when it becomes a difficult time.

Sadly, life after lockdown has seen an increase in thoughts about 'isolationism': demanding a protection of borders as something to be defended at any cost. No matter whose.

Isolationism absolutely keeps its citizens safe in one respect. But vulnerable communities are vulnerable in different ways, not simply physically. Preventing interaction with the outside world may prevent the spread of some things but risks a breadth of other harms which no society can afford long-term. Perhaps the most important one being our relationships with one another.

Is it healthy for society to fight a cause where vicious language and callous actions are borne out of fear? Or is it better for society to be compassionate and thoughtful so our children see us dealing with adversity in love and attendance to others' needs?

There are vulnerable people in all communities, not just ours, and it is an ancient custom of humanity to attend to the needs of those who call upon a neighbour for assistance. All of us must be that source of aid and endeavour to provide healing at no-one's cost. To run away and hide, abandoning a neighbour in their biggest time of need, instead speaks volumes about a lack of humanity. Such were not the actions of the Good Samaritan; an outcast who provided love and goodness when those best placed to do so didn't. The only cost to him was the price of some practical care. The benefit was eternal.

We are living in times where we absolutely cannot put our health at needless risk. No-one would argue in favour of that. But there will be nuances and conditions in others' lives which we may not understand but which require our attention and help. In those times, all communities should be places of refuge, minimising risk by proper adherence to regulations which keep us safe. The government has been excellent in keeping the island seemingly Covid-free since July, where outbreaks have not been community-based. If our system works then those who do what they should do are doing things correctly.

So when people, on this island or across, need to close that gap across the water for mental or physical health reasons, it speaks in our favour if we are outward-looking, attentive and compassionate: appreciating the trials and sufferings others face and endeavouring to help where we can.

Because being there for others in that situation is living as God intends us to, with our humanity being properly lived out.

God bless,