Rector's New Year Message for 2022
Just before the beginning of 2021 I saw a telling cartoon somewhere on the internet and I was not surprised to see it reappear as we moved into December once more. The artist had produced a line drawing of a group of people fearfully huddled back and half around a corner from an entrance. On figure is being pushed forward by the others, and with a long broom handle is gingerly prodding the bottom of a door marked ‘2021’.
The new version has of course labelled the menacing portal, ‘2022’. I am glad I have no gift of prophesy, if we had been able to see last December what would follow in the first part of the coming year, we might have been fearful indeed. We cannot tell what this new year brings. The portents as I write this in mid-December do not auger well. However, on Radio Four’s ‘A Point of View’ on Sunday the Twelfth of December the writer Sarah Dunant retold how she had bought a piece of furniture at an antique shop and when she got it home, she discovered how somebody eighty years ago had lined it carefully with old newspapers whose yellowed pages chronicled the months from September to Christmas 1941. In her imagination she conjured up the figure of a housewife perhaps in her ‘thirties with children and a husband in the forces, far from home. This intelligent woman would have read these papers perhaps with a growing sense of anxiety, as the German army advanced invincibly across the immensity of Russia, repeatedly defeating the Red Army, taking hundreds of thousands of prisoners and sweeping through great cities. By the end of the space of time covered by the journalistic narrative Dunant had found, the Wehrmacht was at the gates of Moscow itself. You can see where they halted at what is now one of the city airports. Not only this but at the same time the Japanese navy had won a spectacular victory, seemingly knocking out the American pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour. Not only did it look as though the war was being lost in Europe, but it also may have felt to our housewife as if a catastrophe was under way in the East; 1941 had proven to be even worse than 1940, with the fall of France and Dunkirk.
It also may have seemed to us that 2021 multiplied the pain of 2020, but actually just as in the year’s turn all those years ago the seeds of eventual victory were sown, in that the Germans had been stopped short of Moscow, in that the economic energies of America had now been committed to total war – so a way through the pandemic is now clear. The vaccines we have will defeat the virus, they can be adjusted to match any mutation. It will take time. Decisions have to be made, and they will not be easy ones. There will be suffering still, but humanity will win this. God Bless, Ashley.