Reflection on the 7th Anniversary of the London Bridge Attack

Reflection by the Dean at the Community Act of Commemoration on the 7th Anniversary of the London Bridge Attack.

When there is such a dreadful and horrifying attack such as we remember today, I’m always struck by something. Many of those caught up in the events, after the attack is over, have a reluctance to go home. Those rescued are thinking of those who weren’t. To go home can feel a betrayal somehow. The Emergency Services personnel and hospital staff work to the point of collapse and still don’t want to go home - there is more to do, lives still held in the balance. Local leaders stay, needing to be with their people. And there are of course the anxious families, longing to hear news of the person they love as they watch things on TV and wanting to go and look for them, and the bereaved for whom to go home or to stay at home feels like being trapped in a prison of pain, absence being the unbearable presence. In each, the protective desire to find and be with the one you would do anything for and end the cruel distance between you both. For those caught up in indescribable hours it never feels like a day to go home. What would you do there? Who would you be? What would you eventually have to face? It seems that when tragedy occurs, communities suddenly realise that home is being with and for each other. 

There has been much talk recently of a broken society and of the fault-lines that run through many of our communities. But we need also to see and name what we remember today – loved ones lost - but all the sacrifices for good, the working togetherness, the commitment to the unknown stranger, the desire to help the wounded and fragile, the faith communities’ shared pastoral work, the courage to stop an attacker ending lives at the very cost of your own. Our cathedral will always stand alongside those who keep the human heart alive in our community, even under attack, and it is an honour to remember today both those who lost their lives and those who still grieve, and those who knew that they could never just walk away from other people, that life demanded more of them and that their own life and true values were recovered in responding to that demand.