Pastoral Letter - 12th March
My Dear Friends, It is Mothering Sunday in a couple of days’ time, which is also known in the Church as Refreshment Sunday. As you will know, those who were in service used to be given the day off from the big house in order to visit their families in this Springtime Sunday in the year and they used to pick wild flowers en route to present to their mothers. Hence the tradition in the Church of presenting the women in the congregation with posies of flowers, in thanks for their maternal ministry in the Church. It was also the time of year when people made pilgrimage to their mother churches, perhaps to the place where they themselves had been Baptised, to give thanks for the gift of life and for the gift of salvation. What all these traditions have in common is the sense of returning to one’s roots to give thanks for the source of our being and for the nurture and encouragement which we have benefited from. As well as being a wonderfully celebratory time for many, it is also a poignant time of year for others: those who had an unhappy experience with their mothers, those who have been unable to be mothers, those of us whose mothers are no longer with us. Every year, I remember that it was just two days before Mothering Sunday that my own mother died and whereas my father had the gift of storytelling, making up memorable characters and narratives to delight me as a child, my mother relied almost entirely upon books. The books she chose to read to me also offered an experience of wonder, but in a different way, for my emerging imagination as I shut my eyes and stepped into the landscape of whatever story was being told me, as I prepared for sleep. I can still recall snuggling down into the cosy contours of my bed, a small lamp warming the air with golden light in Winter, the setting sun sending golden beams across the floor in Summer. It was for me amongst the most magical moments in any day, the intimacy of my parent’s company, the amazing things, people, pictures, sensations, I would experience through the unfolding story, erupting in colours, shapes, characters, sounds, emotions in my fertile imagination. Perhaps for you too those moments are amongst the most precious childhood memories and the books one was introduced to then are amongst the most treasured that we have. A book I came across a few months ago is a book I would have loved to have had read to me as a child. It is populated by just the four characters in the title and is a collection of things either said by one of them, two of them or more of them, as they confide to one another the innermost questions and insights of their lives and speak to our need for reassurance and encouragement. You may have come across the book already, it is entitled: "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse", by Charlie Mackesy, which incidentally he dedicated to his Mother (and his dog, Dill). It is a book to have to hand at all times and in all manner of moments in our lives. It does not need to be read in sequence, just open the book at a random page and enjoy looking there for something which speaks to you. The author is also the artist who has illustrated the book and I was first made aware of it as pages had been reproduced, laminated and displayed around Marble Hill Park last year. The book was published just before this awful virus changed the world and it couldn’t have been offered to us at a better moment. I have reproduced below a few lines from the book to give you a taste of what is on offer and here too are the links to some Collective Worship sessions Katherine Cox and I have recently filmed for the school, which you might enjoy watching at some point. https://youtu.be/lOiTBTspLNM <https://youtu.be/lOiTBTspLNM> https://youtu.be/poKYKpomr3o <https://youtu.be/poKYKpomr3o> https://youtu.be/qxJNgmc7KBE <https://youtu.be/qxJNgmc7KBE> We have based them all on "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse", but have also had to link them to the theme which the school are concentrating on this term, which is "Endurance". It’s a hefty word and a hefty concept for such young minds and lives, so what we have tried to do in our sessions is to show how we can find the resources to deal with life’s challenges and opportunities through our relationships with God, with each other and with our deepest selves. I have therefore separated the quotations below into those three sections, though of course there is huge overlap. If you get the chance, do try to read the book, it’s absolutely marvellous. Blessings and best wishes for Mothering Sunday and beyond............ Jeff Quotations which relate to finding resources in God, in others, in ourselves, from "The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse" by Charlie Mackesy: 1) Finding the resources to cope with life through our relationship with God: "What do you think success is?" asked the Boy "To love" said the Mole. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" asked the Mole. "Kind" said the Boy. "What do you think is the biggest waste of time?" asked the Boy "Comparing yourself to others." replied the Mole. "I have learned how to be in the present." said the Mole. "How?" asked the Boy. "I find a quiet spot and shut my eyes and breathe" "That`s good. And then?" "Then I focus." "What do you focus on?" asked the Boy. "Cake" replied the Mole. "Isn’t it odd? We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside." "I think everyone is just trying to get home." said the Mole. "Sometimes I think you believe in me more than I believe in myself." said the Boy "You’ll catch up" said the Horse. "Is your glass half empty or half full?" asked the Mole. "I’m just happy to have a glass." replied the Boy. 2) Finding resources to cope with life through our relationships with friends: "What do we do when our hearts hurt?" asked the boy "We wrap them with friendship, shed tears and time, Till we wake up hopeful and happy again," said the Horse. "I have realised why we are here" whispered the boy. "For cake?" asked the Mole, "To love" said the boy "And be loved", added The Horse. "Sometimes I want to say "I love you all"" said the Mole, "But I find it difficult", "Do you?" said the Boy "Yes so I say something like "I am glad we are all here"" "Oh" said the boy, "I am glad we are all here." "We are so glad that you are here too." "I have discovered something better than cake" said the Mole. "No you haven`t" said the Boy. "I have" replied the Mole. "What is it?" "A hug, it lasts longer." replied the Mole. "Doing nothing with friends is never doing nothing is it?" asked the Boy. "No" said the Mole. "So you know all about me?" asked the Boy, "Yes," said the Horse. "And you still love me?" "We love you all the more" said the Horse. "We don’t know about tomorrow" said the Horse, "All that we need to know is that we love each other." "We have such a long way to go." sighed the Boy "Yes but look how far we have come." said the Horse. "I am so small" said the Mole. "Yes" said the Boy, "But you make a huge difference." 3) Finding the resources to cope with life through our relationship with ourselves. "Most of the old moles I know wish that they had listened less to their fears and more to their dreams." said the Mole. "Imagine what we would be if we were less afraid." "One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things." "There is so much beauty we need to look after." "Being kind to yourself is the greatest kindness," said the Mole. "Often the hardest person to forgive us yourself..." "Everyone is a bit scared," said the Horse, "but we are less scared together." "What is the bravest thing you have ever said?" asked the Boy, "Help" said the Horse. "When have you been at your strongest?" asked the Boy. "When I have dared to show my weakness." said the Horse. "Sometimes I worry that you will all realise that I am ordinary." said the Boy. "Love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary." said the Horse. "What is your biggest discovery?" asked the Mole. "That I am enough as I am " said the Boy. "Do you have any other advice?" asked the Boy "Don’t measure how valuable you are by the way you are treated." said the Horse. "Always remember that you matter, you are important and you are loved and you bring to the world things no one else can." "Sometimes I feel lost" said the Boy. "Me too," said the Mole, "But we love you and love brings you home." "Home isn’t always a place.............." "I think everyone is just trying to get home" said the Mole. "What’s over there?" asked the Boy. "It’s the wild" said the Mole, "Don’t fear it." (All quotations from "The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse", by Charlie Mackesy) Do join us this Sunday for our Zoom service at 9.30am. The Gospel passage is: Luke 2 v 22-40. The Collect for Mothering Sunday: Lord God of compassion, Whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary, Shared the life of a home in Nazareth And on the Cross drew the whole human family to Himself: Strengthen us in our daily living, That in joy and in sorrow We may know the power of your presence To bind together and to heal. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit One God, now and for ever. AMEN.
HOLY WEEK 2021. Holy Week is of course the most important time in the year for us as Christians. St Mary’s Church will be open for you to come in and pray at any time between 10.30am and 11.30am on: Holy Wednesday 31st March Maundy Thursday, 1st April and Good Friday, 2nd April. There will also be an opportunity to come up to the altar to receive Communion from the Reserved Sacrament. I hope many of you will be able to join us. With blessings and best wishes. Jeff