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The Everlasting Arms (for Becky Watts)

Mexican Circle of Friends

This morning’s Thought for the Day had to be prepared carefully and delivered sensitively.

On February 19th, 16-year-old Becky Watts, from St George in Bristol, went missing. Her family live about a mile away from Kingswood, where we live. Today (March 4th), her stepbrother Nathan Matthews was charged with her murder after body parts were found at an address in Barton Hill.

(The full story about the unfolding search for Becky can be read on the Avon and Somerset Police website https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/newsroom/help-us-to-find-missing-rebecca-(16)/two-charged-in-connection-with-becky-watts-investigation

Writing the Thought was a challenge. At the time of the Radio Bristol breakfast show, people were in custody but had not been charged; the details of the investigation were almost constantly being updated and social media was going mad; names and judgements were flying around well before any charges had been made.

What to say? How do you say something meaningful and reflective about such a huge, horrific event in 90 seconds? I was writing something last night when a phone call came from the newsroom – churches were opening their doors for the community today. And that really fitted in with what I wanted to say.

Thought for the Day – March 4th 2015

At home in our living room we have a Circle of Friends Mexican candle holder (like the one pictured above)

Four metal figures stand on a base, forming a circle by linking arms. The figures look towards the light, which is provided by the candle in the middle. They support the others and in turn are supported themselves.

I lit a candle in the holder last night for Becky Watts and for those who love her. I said a prayer. Both acts felt small and insignificant in the face of dreadful news, but it felt important to do something, even if it was a tiny gesture.

That’s why I’m glad that churches in Becky’s community will be opening their doors today for anyone who wants to come in, pray, remember, light a candle. Small acts perhaps, but acts which demonstrate a community wanting to surround those who are grieving with support and love.

There’s a verse in the Old Testament of the Bible which says: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

I used to think this was a strange verse but in the face of tragedy it makes sense. Sometimes, in the middle of grief, pain and anger we need others to support us and lift us up, others who can hold us up with love, with practical support, with prayers.

Sometimes the devastation of a situation cannot be changed but a circle of love can be formed – just like the figures on my Mexican candle holder. We link arms and together, we look for the light.

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