29th February 2016

fr_simonDear All

It seems so long ago since I wrote my past piece of this e-bulletin and yet sitting at my desk this first day back it also seems like I have never been away. Such is life.

First my thanks to Fr Andrew who has, I’m sure you’ll all agree, worked incredibly hard,these last three months. Also my thanks to Nick and Suzette our Churchwardens for holding the reigns during my absence.

I am refreshed. These last few months have been a combination of rest, relaxation, reading and prayer.

Highlights:

Discovering the Saxon Churches of Shropshire.

Presiding on Christmas morning  at a Saxon village church (Tugford) literally in the middle of a field, hardly altered since Elizabethan times, (at the moment there is no electricity) with a congregation of 40 predominantly from the Big House! It was more than stepping back in time it was to enter a completely different world and one seemingly not changed for centuries.

Singing carols local to Shropshire and traditional in my local pub accompanied by a fiddle and squeeze box.

Sailing on an Irish ferry on probably the worst day ever to be out in a boat on the Irish Sea, returning to Holyhead on probably the second worst day ever to be on a boat on the Irish Sea!

Staying with the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield, West Yorkshire for two weeks – probably the most intense spiritual experience of my life.There really is something about monastic silence which is unlike any other kind of silence. Much more about this later.

The opportunity to read and re-visit some spiritual classics. Fr Harry Williams True Wilderness is such an important book.

Driving round Florida in a great big American Jeep.

Lows:

Well, being on your own for so long; having the freedom and opportunity to think long and hard, not having the business of work to mask questions that have needed to be asked and faced for many years. Still once you have asked the questions, worked out some answers and responded appropriately, it is an opportunity to move on.

So it has been a good time. I am now looking forward to the months ahead, there is a lot happening in these next few months.

Simon


Dear Friends,

Those of you who know me reasonably well will know that I am a creature of habit. I don’t like surprises or shocks or lateness or deviating from the norm. I like routine and order. I like to know what is happening. And when things don’t pan as out expected I can sometimes get a bit thrown.  I think that’s why I like well-structured and familiar liturgy. Sister Monica Joan once said when talking about liturgy “The liturgy is of comfort to the disarrayed mind. We need not choose our thoughts; the words are aligned, like a rope for us to cling to” Today my plans have changed at the last minute because Eliza is unwell and so I am on looking after Eliza duties today (she is downstairs on the settee with a blanket over her watching trashy television as I type – don’t tell Alice!). I am fortunate that I have a job that allows me a degree of flexibility from time to time. Many people don’t have that luxury.

I was contacted out of the blue – and I don’t like that either! – by a life coach in January who could “transform your life”. The offer was for someone (her) to walk alongside me metaphorically for a year, to guide and coach me and to support and “champion” me through positive change. She added that change is hard for many people (very true for me) and it doesn’t matter if we know the change is for our own benefit, but because we are creatures of habit, the pull back to the familiar – however unwanted or painful – is way too strong for us do it alone. So we need a guide (her in other words) in order for effective change to happen.

And although I declined her kind offer she certainly made me think. Lent is a good time for self-examination; for recognising our flaws and cracks and for asking ourselves what we might do about them. Being aware of our short-comings is a start. And if we don’t know what to do about them we only have to ask God for help; His shoulders are big enough to cope with everything we throw in his direction.

With every blessing,

Fr Andrew