May Newsletter

Dear Friends,

PlantWhen you read this you may have been lucky enough to hear the song of the cuckoo, a sound announcing spring has truly sprung. Once again the miracle of new life unfolds and little green shoots push their way through the soil.

Biblical writers were aware of the precious beauty of the natural world but they also had great respect for it as well. Life for these nomadic people was hard and food, water and security were understood to be gifts to be treasured; there was no illusion or indeed expectation life would be easy or human beings had everything under control.

We live in uncertain times when peace and stability seem to be slipping away and we fear for the future, both in terms of the environment disaster we can no longer ignore, and in which volatile leaders make decisions that have far reaching consequences for the whole world order. Most of the time we can push thoughts of our own human vulnerability under the carpet comforting ourselves we are in the 21st century and are more sophisticated than those biblical men and women, we have progressed and are completely in control of our own destinies. Now and then a catastrophic event or series of events jolts us out of this complacent arrogant assumption and I think the context we are in today is such a time.

Our perspective on life is different to our predecessors, we live in a different age, and unlike them our news channels supply us with graphic images of the human suffering of people thousands of miles away 24 hours a day on a relentless roll of grief and loss; there is something awful about sitting watching all this in the comfort of one’s own sitting room.

So I give l thanks I live in this beautiful and peaceful place, I want to acknowledge I lead an astonishingly privileged life; I feel helpless in the face of the suffering I see in Ukraine and many other places of conflict or famine in our world. I may be repeating what I said last month, but I think we need to hear it again. I feel unnerved by world events, by so much avoidable suffering, but I also want to point to the Christian understanding of hope; Candlehowever dark the world seems, and however impossible it looks new life will ever appear, love will prevail in the end, God is in there somewhere. St Francis of Assisi encapsulated everything I have been trying to say with these words: ‘All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of one single candle.’

Many of you will have seen me walking and taking services with the aid of a stick. I have a chronic back problem resulting in a lot of pain, and in the same area, a tendon that is basically useless. I was advised by my physiotherapist to use a stick for support. On good days I can function as normal, on bad days I really am in a lot of pain and cannot sit or stand for any length of time. My back also affects my ability to sleep which makes it even harder to deal with the pain. I take medication which helps slightly. I know when I have stood to take a service, I will be in pain afterwards, sitting with a hot water bottle on my back when I get home helps my muscles relax. I am learning to manage the situation with the help of meditation, walking when I can, and I see an osteopath once a month if not more. I am explaining all this in the hope that when I must leave a meeting because of sitting too long, or don’t come to a social function because standing too long is agonising, you will understand why. As I said, I am learning to manage the pain and pace myself when it is not too bad. I still enjoy my work but now and then, I have to slow down, and things take longer than they might. Thank you for reading this.

With love and prayers,