For the occupants of Downes Towers the past few days have been cold and smelly as our boiler has expired and we have been without heat and hot water. On one night last week we were very Victorian and boiled pans and kettles and filled a bath and all four of us took turns to have a bath. I was fourth and as I entered the murky water that Alice, Eliza and Archie had already availed themselves of I can assure you that I didn’t hang around….The plumbers that I had organised to rectify matters have been poor and incompetent beyond belief and a number of lively conversations have taken place between your curate and themselves! I was brought up short today however, when I read some stories from Aleppo, the besieged city in Syria, and found out that they have had no power for over 120 days and some families are so hungry and starving that they have resorted to eating rats. It is an old truism that there is always someone worse off than yourselves. I felt guilty for giving the plumbers a hard time and also for realising how much I take our relative affluence and comforts for granted.
Lent which starts tomorrow, is absolutely the right season for reflection and introspection and honesty. And for opening yourself up to God and allowing God to speak to you. And also for looking deeply in a mirror and seeing if you like what is looking back at you. As I touched on Sunday in my homily, when, like Isaiah, we find ourselves before God, the only possible response is humility and honesty. Someone at church yesterday asked me for a good book to read over Lent. I mentioned last week the two Fr Tim Radcliffe titles that I would recommend but also you could do a lot worse than to read Stephen Cherry’s “Barefoot Disciple” which is a wonderful book. Cherry, who is Dean of King’s College, Cambridge has recently posted a blog on his site about finding space and peace in the busyness of Lent. You can read it here.
The best way of course to have a good Lent is to start it in the right way and in this vein I hope to see as many as possible in church on Ash Wednesday – that’s tomorrow if you needed any reminding. We have services at 9.30am and at 8.00pm.
With every blessing,