It seems the older I get the more silence I crave. It was therefore good to be able to spend some time at the Society of Saint Francis Friary in Alnmouth, Northumberland last week, it was particularly precious to share that time with some parishioners. I discovered Alnmouth Friary when I was 15 years old in 1977. Along with the county of Northumberland, it has been a constant in my life ever since. It’s not just the physical beauty, it’s the sense of spiritual presence, of the many Saints who trod the very beaches I have walked, men such as Aidan a monk from Iona invited by King Oswald to come to Northumbria, whose gentle nature converted Oswald’s subjects where others had failed. All those many years ago Aidan established an important pastoral principle, ‘begin where people are not where you think they should be’. Aidan died in the year 651 by the church at Bamburgh. St Cuthbert was a special Saint still much loved by the people of the North East. Cuthbert wanted to give his whole and undivided attention to God, he lived on the Inner Farne to be alone with God. One day King Egfrid and a large retinue visited Cuthbert on the Inner Farne and after much discussion Cuthbert was persuaded to become the Bishop of Lindisfarne. He was a very successful bishop, but after two years of work he resigned his office and returned to the Inner Farne to again be alone with God, he died in 687. There are other great Saints attached to the North East; Hilda of Whitby, Paulinus, Theodore of Tarsus and Wilfred. Each in their own way had a significant impact on the development of Christianity and the Church in these Islands. To walk the beaches of Northumberland is to follow in their footsteps, to hear their call and respond to their challenge. I hope we will be able to return as a parish next year.
Last week I spent some time reflecting on the tragic events of fifty years ago in Aberfan when 116 children and 28 adults lost their lives. So many people are still haunted by the memories of that day, including the father of one of our local Chiswick clergy, a miner, who was involved in the rescue. I remember as a child watching the television in horror as events unfolded. I thought the BBC coverage of the anniversary last week was excellent and very moving.
This week being half term, many of us with children and grandchildren will be spending more time with them, in many.cases trying to juggle work and play. We are fortunate in London to have so many activities with which to occupy them. And hopefully those commuting to work by public transport or car will find their journeys a little less crowded.
Do remember that the clocks go back an hour on Sunday morning!
With every blessing