Last week’s retreat at the Friary of the Society of Saint Francis at Alnmouth, Northumberland was an amazing experience, notwithstanding my rather unconventional travelling companion for the return journey home. It’s often remarked how little time clergy have, or set aside for the kind of prayer and meditation which takes time and is so fruitful for our ministry and relationship with God. I know how hard it is to settle down and pray in this way, I say the prayers required in the morning and evening and I spend the day shooting arrow prayers to God in a kind of hurried conversation, but simply to be still and know, well that is a different matter, that’s why Alnmouth is so important. Apart from spending time being still and silent, I can walk and for me walking is like saying the rosary, or the Jesus prayer, I am engaged in a physical activity which frees my mind for God. I’m also walking in an area of outstanding natural beauty. If beauty, together with goodness and truth are things which help us make sense of God, then I want to share two encounters with you. As I was walking along St Ostwald Way towards the coastal village of Bulmer I met a little hedgehog walking across the path in front of me towards the safety of some bramble bushes. I’ve never seen a hedgehog at such close proximity before and I was stunned by its beauty, its innocence and fragility, the encounter was so overwhelming I began to cry. Perhaps I was subconsciously overwhelmed by the fragility of all life, mine included, all I wanted to do was to protect that beautiful little creature. It was a warm and sunny day and I certainly didn’t feel any rain, but when I looked up from the ground, before me in a perfect arc was a fully formed rainbow, stretching from the fields right into the sea. In the Old Testament the rainbow was a sign of God’s covenant. It’s at moments like these that God feels very close, it was a privilege to be there.
I have just confirmed with the Funeral Directors that Jane Watson’s funeral will be st St Nicholas on Thursday 8 November at 11 am followed by internment in Chiswick Old Cemetery at 12 noon
I hope those of you with school-age children in your families are enjoying a relaxing week over half-term and are able to have time to spend doing things together. For those of us driving or walking round Chiswick the roads have been eerily quiet this week!
In the latest London Diocesan Treasurers’ Newsletter they reproduce a reflection written by the Stewardship Officer of Lincoln Diocese which I am copying below as food for thought this week:
Ifs – A Reflection on Christian Giving
If I give nothing
I vote to close my church
If I give only to local support
I vote to stop missionary activity in the world
If I give proportionately
I give something even if out of necessity it is only small
If I give systematically
I allow my church to plan ahead
If I give sacrificially
I place a high value on Christian Ministry in the World.
With every blessing