The view this month is a little grey in spite of the bright blue sunshine and the soaring temperatures. Over the past few days I have visited Tottington Primary and High Schools. I have spoken to members of staff as well as pupils. I was asked to lead prayers at the Vigil outside of the Town Hall on Wednesday Evening.
On Thursday I found myself standing at the half-raised Union Flag at the entrance to Totty High as a minute’s silence was observed.
On Friday, I again went into their School and read a piece of prose as Olivia Campbell’s closest friends loosed balloons into the air. Her tutor group and members of Year 10 were in St Anne’s later on in the afternoon. There is, I have observed in the last few days, a certain “numbness” in our village and its people at this time; mostly demonstrated on the faces of many young people for whom the very seriousness and fragility of life has been made brutally, cruelly and painfully made real.
On Wednesday evening, after the Vigil had come to its conclusion, I stood and looked out upon quite literally hundreds of people milling their way back to their homes having placed an offering of flowers at the base of the Whitehead Clock to the side of the Town Hall. As I stood there, I once again realised, how very significant the local is in holding people together; not as a ghastly strap line that might be displayed on the side of a bus or billboard or recited as a cliche, but by real people giving real support, expressing genuine compassion, exhibiting sincere affection; this was also very apparent at Tottington High School. On Wednesday people in Bury turned out to be together to express, amongst other things, their sense of belonging; a belonging to the local and to the particular where people are known and where bonds of ‘connectedness’ can bring about the flourishing of human life.
The words of St Paul to the Church in Romans remind us that with the privilege of belonging comes an obligation to serve others. He writes, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour.”
May we all strive to live those objectives in our own lives and always try to be a source of hope and healing to those around us who have been affected by an evil too perverse to comprehend.
Requiescat In Pace Olivia Campbell and all those others so tragically killed in the bomb attack in Manchester.