“AS people of faith, I have been wondering - what is helping us to keep our faith during this time of physical distancing, lockdown and quarantine?” writes the Reverend Jenny Ramsden, Diocesan Interfaith Adviser for Bradford and Leeds.

“Is it prayer? Is there a particular prayer or reflection that you have read, said or recited that has brought you comfort? Could you share a prayer or reflection from your faith tradition for this current time?

Is it reading scripture or words of wisdom from your faith tradition? Is there a particular line of scripture or a word or wisdom from your faith tradition that is bringing you comfort or hope?

Is it faith in other people? Have you given or received an unexpected act of kindness during this period? Can you share a piece of ‘good news’ from your faith community? Have you seen or heard examples of people from different faith traditions coming together in practical ways to support each other and the vulnerable in our society?

These are the questions I have been asking my friends, colleagues and neighbours of different faiths from across the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, where I am the Diocesan Interfaith Adviser.

“This blog is a collation of their responses. One is written by the chairman of Bradford Synagogue, currently living in self isolation, and other by a Muslim woman who has had firsthand experience of coronavirus.

I hope their words bring you comfort, inspiration and hope during these strange and unsettling times.”

l ‘Prayer and Actions’ by Rudi Leavor BEM, Chairman of Bradford Reform Synagogue

“In a pogrom many years ago they took Akiba out for execution. As iron combs scraped away his skin in preparation he cried out: shema Jisrael... ( which is the most important prayer in the Hebrew liturgy pronouncing that our G-d is one. It is said in every service.) His disciples asked him how he could say this prayer even now. He replied that he had often thought if in this situation he would still revere G-d and now he knew.”

“Though I don’t physically recite this prayer every day it is constantly at the back of my mind and is a source of comfort and security.

Actions are even better than words. Especially in the current anxious times when I am not allowed to go out of the house (and have lost my car through a stolen car crashing into mine, making it a write-off) both my Muslim neighbours bring food round very regularly and another Muslim lady fetched my newspaper and medications until she herself was confined to the house as well. Though they do it out of kindness, knowing full well that I am Jewish, I have for years sent them ‘End of Eid’ cards and brought dates to their house.

“Many senior Bradford Christians, Muslims, a Hindu and Sikh are my personal friends as I have become involved in Interfaith relations over the years. I like to think that Bradford stands out as a beacon for Interfaith in the country.”

l ‘What Really Matters - A Reflection Based Upon a Personal Experience of Coronavirus’, by Abda Khan

“I have had my own nasty experience with coronavirus and fortunately I’m on the mend.

“My daily prayers are an important part of my life as a Muslim, however, I was so ill that at one stage I couldn’t even sit in a chair and perform my prayers. It was too painful.

“But being so ill, alone in my room, isolated for eight days away from my children, gave me time to reflect and try and make some ‘sense’ of it in my own mind.

“I realised that the world that we are surrounded by is so fragile and vulnerable. As humans we can zoom into space and orbit our planet, yet we cannot defeat this extremely contagious virus.

“Covid-19, for now, is boss, and it dictates everything. Our whole way of life has been turned on its head.

“Due to the awful experience I have had, and the heartbreaking news of the death of friends and acquaintances, I have been thinking about how some of the things that we as a society appear to hold dear are in fact meaningless.

“The desire for social media ‘likes’, the need to be popular, our thirst for gossip, wanting to always appear ‘perfect’, wasting money on frivolous things, our disregard for the environment, turning a blind eye to those in need, our passion to ‘succeed’ at any cost, seeing success in terms of how rich we are, by way of a bank balance or expensive material possessions instead of the richness of heart - these societal ‘norms’ are now in sharp focus.

“Yet these things now seem of little consequence. Close friends of mine have lost loved ones in a heartbeat. They have died alone. “This truly breaks my heart. When you step back and reflect, you realise that what really matters are the people you love and care about, and how your behaviour as a human being impacts others.

“Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of what’s truly important. This pandemic is a tragic reminder of what is dear to us, and our time in lockdown is an opportunity to reflect on this, and also to heal.”

l If anyone has either a prayer, words from scripture, words of wisdom from their faith tradition or a good news story, they are invited to send them to Rev Jenny Ramsden by email to jenny.ramsden@leeds.anglican.org

Please include a few words about their significance to you and how they are helping you in ‘Keeping Faith’.