by Rev Dr Brian Roberts
Dear Brethren, after 1946/47 people asked what you did in the war. Looking ahead no doubt we will be asked by the younger generation, ”What did you do in the lockdown?” Well, the answer will depend upon whether you were fortunate enough to retain your health, as very sadly we have lost a large number of people in our country. No doubt in time there will be questions asked about how it came about and how we dealt with it, but whatever the answers turn out to be, it will be no consolation to the many people, including some of our own brethren, who have suffered family loss, or their own health has been compromised, or worse.
Irrespective of the Covid-19 problems our normal routes to health services have been stopped. This has caused some patients to be on a backward step to recovery, or delayed assessment for treatment. Let us not forget those who have suffered during this intensive period – we know of some of our brethren who have passed to the Grand Lodge above, and we continue to pray for them and their families. We also think of those of our members who have lost loved ones and find themselves feeling despondent. Often overlooked has been this mental toll on us all, and the feelings of isolation and dejection felt by many who have had no-one to turn to. Even the strongest amongst us have felt these feelings. One of the many forgotten groups is the children who have been unable to attend school. The mental effect on them, as well as the negative impact upon their learning has not yet been assessed.
During the lockdown one of my wife’s closest friends passed away after a long and difficult illness. It wasn’t unexpected, but nevertheless in the end a shock for the family. The lady had asked me if I would take her funeral service, but said that she would understand if I wasn’t able to do it. Although it was going to be difficult I agreed to do it, not least because she and her family wanted to feel content that someone she knew would look after her on that day. The meeting took place at the impressive new Crematorium at Lea just outside Gainsborough, which because of its newness was able to take a few more people than other older buildings. Those who could not attend because of number restrictions or distance from their homes were able to view the service on a video link. The virus affects even those who have passed away but they could, at least remotely, have all of their friends there in one way or another. The technology has changed our lives during the pandemic as the funeral could be seen and heard by those who would otherwise not have had the opportunity.
Through technology children too have been able to communicate with other family members, or their teachers on a regular basis through “Facetime”, “Zoom”, “WhatsApp”or “Microsoft teams” etc-necessity has made even the more senior family members a little more computer savvy. Via Zoom too we have been appointed by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master to our Provincial offices! Such a thing would not have been thought possible only a few short months before.
During this time of the pandemic masons throughout the Province have been helpful to others in many different, often unsung ways, and the strength of our brotherhood has been seen to continue even without our personal contact in ceremonies. Once we begin again to interact at a personal level, whenever that day comes, we will all be a little nervous until we find our feet and get used to the new routines. Vera Lynn sang very aptly ‘We’ll meet again’ – but she didn’t know where or when. We as Freemasons know where, although we don’t know when! I for one am looking forward immensely to attending ceremonies again, and whatever the timescale I am prepared to wait because what we do is worth waiting for!
A Prayer of Thanks
“Great Architect we thank you for watching over us and our loved ones during these most difficult days of the pandemic. Take into your loving care those who we have loved but no longer can see. Support with your loving arms we beseech you those who have suffered physically and mentally during the past few months and help them through to a brighter tomorrow. Help us to maintain our charitable mission to support each other and those in the community less fortunate than ourselves in the coming months and years.” SMIB