We are very blessed to be spending our lockdown at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. The large parsonage has burgeoned to about eleven people in isolation, together. Quarantine in the church doesn’t feel like a hardship, it feels a bit like being back at an English boarding school (some might say that’s a synonym for ‘hardship’) or perhaps it’s how I might imagine living in a monastery. The church has a large territory with a garden front and back so plenty of room to get out and about to stretch one’s legs, and lots of gardening to do. Plus there are the daily church services where help is required with reading lessons and managing the live streaming. Not since boarding school have I attended chapel daily – and during lockdown I thoroughly enjoy rolling across the yard in the early morning, into Morning Prayer. It was a daily ritual – about five to six of us turn up for a lovely group experience and spiritual up lift to kick-off the day. I now totally ‘get’ why people join monasteries.
Morning Prayer is a service that’s bible reading heavy! I have never really read the Bible – not like you do at Morning prayer. Yea, of course I have ‘read’ the bible like everyone else … all the ‘big stories’ of nativities, crucifixions and miracles, of creation, plagues and parting Seas, or guys who get technicolour dream coats and inspire musicals. No, I mean I never actually READ the bible – not like the Robinson Crusoes of this world who get washed up on dessert islands with nothing else to read, so start at page one and don’t stop. Well that’s pretty much what morning prayer looks like and you know what – its utterly riveting. Really! These bible stories could make a great Netflix series … In recent days I encountered clapping rivers, talking donkeys and circumcision mountains (I don’t want to go there) … And, gradually the bible jig saw comes together – all those names you heard of people, places and stuff – suddenly they fit together! Oh, so ‘A’ lived there and ‘B’ did that right after ‘C’ happened and so on and so forth and it makes sense.
In fact, Dan, a wonderful, bubbly American preacher staying among us decided we should do a live stream after Morning Prayer, which we call, ‘What Did I Just Read? (with Dan & Mike)’ – to discuss what had just been read. It is that classic set up; the teacher Dan and the fool Mike who hasn’t a clue asking the dumb (but actually quite smart) questions! It seems to get quite a regular following 😀
CHURCH VIDEO ON FACEBOOK
There is a lot of real estate on the premises, so, inspired by Quasimodo and Rapunzel, I dragged a desk to the top of the tower, creating a make-shift office, and giving myself a ‘commute’, of sorts, involving hundreds of stairs. Furthermore, every cup of tea or pee break involves all those stairs again. I’ve been clocking up about 60 floors a day! The great thing about this office are the breath-taking views. As I peek out of my ‘bashnaya’, past the bricks with bullet holes (for real, this place was a gun emplacement during the revolution), I can see Vladimir Vladimirovich in his bashnaya at the kremlin and St.Basils beyond. It is quite exhilarating and gives me such a buzz. From this fabulous vantage point I have witnessed some extraordinary sunsets and biblical thunderclouds (see attached)… Incidentally, this tower is open for business. When we return to normal the church will resume its fabulous historical tours to the tower top. It’s packed with gripping history. Grab the chance and do it –the ticket prices goes to a worthy cause – restoring the place.
Up atop of my lockdown tower I had the definite feeling that time had changed shape in the age of Covid. They say if you want anything done ask a busy person, or, that a task takes as long as the time assigned to it… Early on, some days came and went and I’d marvel at how long a particular task had taken, as if old Mr.Time was making a mockery of us, stealing hours from right under our noses to sell on some time black market (…I have this theory that people with too much spare time are some sort of time-bootlegger). So, it was crucial to load up on tasks each day – the more planned then more actually got done, like having a metronome keeping a lively rhythm of life and holding Father Time to account.
When we come down from our respective Lockdown towers – are we changed… and what does the future hold? Hopefully this bizarrest of times has taught us to fire up our imaginations and feel empowered to seize the future and do it differently.