Happy Easter and Eid Mubarak

It’s been a long old haul since the start of January. But you’ve done it, we’ve done it. We’ve all got through to the end of this term, pretty much unscathed. As always, there have been some bumps along the way but we can put all that behind us now, just think about the fun and free time that you’ve got planned for the coming days. Whoever you are, whatever you will, you do have an extended period of time off. Please do work hard at enjoying that free time, your family (if there is one around) and your friends.

This next couple of weeks will be a significant period for those of a religious persuasion. The holy months of Lent and Ramadan have pretty much run in parallel this year and over the past few weeks; not quite exactly – that will come next year, but alongside each other nonetheless. Both those two periods have very similar patterns and those that follow Lent or Ramadan will experience very similar privations. The intention, in both faiths, is to encourage followers to reflect upon their faith and what that faith might mean to them and their wider community. My admiration goes out to you all; if you have engaged in some fasting over the past month also. For most of us it seems to be beyond our comprehension and capabilities to go without something, be that food, drink, or some other pleasure, for any period of time at all. Yet many of our friends and colleagues will have removed something significant from their diets or daily lives or will have engaged in full days of fasting, over a sustained period of time.

In both faiths, the end of the period of fasting or privation is followed by a period of some celebration. Those celebrations are muted and respectful. Our friends and colleagues do not engage in unnecessarily wild and frivolous activity. More likely, they will engage in a serious reflection upon that holy month, fasting, denial and their faith; what it means to be Christian, or what it means to be a Muslim. And we should recognise that following the period of self-denial there is, in both faiths, a period of giving; be that charity or Zakat.

‘Charity begins at home, but should not end there’. Thomas Fuller

In these difficult times, it is worth reminding ourselves of the similarities between some of our main religions or faiths. Most people, in most places, take time to respect and rejoice in the faith being exhibited by their friends, their colleagues and their neighbours, even when their personal beliefs may not fully align with the beliefs of others; we have more similarities than differences, and we celebrate those similarities and we celebrate those differences.

Whoever you are, whether you have a deep faith that you follow or not, can I wish you a happy Easter, Eid Mubarak and an enjoyable break.