AS the editor of the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme Sarah Sands during Brexit had something of a challenging and hectic lifestyle. Unable to sleep and suffering from information overload she turned to an unlikely source for help.

Reading a copy of a book published in 1957, A time to Keep Silence, led Sarah Sands on a journey to discover what she refers to as “the interior silence” and lessons to be learned from the monastic life.

These lessons went way beyond the kind of mindfulness which has become so much in vogue over recent times but rather went deeper in discovering where peace and reflection are to be found.

Yesterday, as a nation we took time together, collectively, to reflect. To reflect on all that we have lost over the past year and especially to reflect on the lives that have been lost.

In various places across the country the reflection was accompanied by the sound of the tolling of bells calling out across our land which has been fundamentally altered by this virus.

As one journalist noted, if each Covid death in Britain were marked by a one second chime it would take almost 36 hours for them all to be struck.

The day of reflection provided a welcome contrast to the anger that we have witnessed in London and Bristol over the weekend.

Violent protests, angry clashes and the sound of breaking glass gave way to heartfelt reflection, silent lament and the tolling of bells.

That journey from anger to lament is part of the cycle of grief we have endured as a nation over the past year. It is one that we hear in the words of that great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas who in his poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night famously urged a rage, a rage against the dying of the light. But whilst Thomas raged against Death as the greatest enemy, the anger we are currently witnessing is a more toxic variant.

A constant and lengthy exposure to anger, as Sands discovered, is not good for the soul. Sleeplessness might be a symptom, but beneath it lies a deeper discomfort borne from a costly absorption of rage.

It is too early to say what the longer term impact will be on our country of the rage and anger borne from the culture wars we see as divisions which appeared during Brexit find new ways of expressing themselves.

Yet we do know that when we come together to remember and reflect on what we have lost that anger dissipates as our attention moves away from ourselves and to others.

As the great English poet John Donne wrote:

Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.

Arun Arora is Vicar at St Nicholas’ Church, Durham City