August Newsletter

Dear Friends,

My husband and I are sitting in a café in Frome on one of the hottest days the UK has ever experienced and tomorrow it is going to be even hotter. The world is in a mess and the weather with it, and it’s all down to human beings’ extraordinary gift of living as if they owned the place (the earth, the cosmos, etc), with total disregard for the damage they are inflicting on themselves, other species and the delicate eco system we inhabit; you could be forgiven for feeling rather downcast at this scenario.

Added to the above, I arrived home after taking a service with my back screaming in protest at the necessity of standing up for a while. Several painkillers and a hot water bottle later it was not quite as bad. As I ate my lunch feeling rather sorry for myself, I thought about the usual things I do to try to cheer myself up. If I tell you that cleaning the fridge out cheers me up, properly with the shelves taken out and washed, salad drawer likewise, you will probably think I am mad. Cleaning out the larder is even more pleasing, but that is perhaps too big a job for such a hot day.

StatueBut when things are bad, and despair sets in, I seek solace elsewhere. Some of you will not have been in St Mary’s Kingston Deverill. It is a beautiful little church, much altered by the Victorians but in a very restrained way. In the chancel on a plinth wall, is a carved 14th century statue of the Madonna and child. Once she was brightly painted, now there is the merest hint of colour here and there. She is weathered and worn and one hand is missing, a mere stump. But it is her brokenness that speaks to me so powerfully of beauty and pain; she holds the Christ child almost as if she is offering him to us, she seems to be gazing into the future and saying, ‘here is suffering and pain, this is what it means to be human, this is the reality we live with.’

I cannot quite explain why I find this statue so calming, I think it is because gazing at this battered Madonna I feel but a tiny, tiny part of something much bigger and deeper than myself. I feel drawn into another perspective in which myself, this world, this suffering, this despair is held by something I cannot understand nor articulate. T.S Elliot wrote: ‘Here or there does not matter/We must be still and still moving/Into another intensity/ For a further union, a deeper communion’. Do go and visit this beautiful Madonna and child, I hope she speaks to you and brings you peace.

With love and prayers,