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Letter from the Vicar (October 2017)

Dear friends,

Some years ago I was walking in the countryside around the village of Walsingham where at that time I was leading the Cornish pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk. As I walked I came across a sign which read: ‘Choose your rut carefully you’ll be in it for a long time’. I love this kind of humour, so often popping up in odd places: glimpses of humanity in a world that seems increasingly regulated and standardised.

One of the consequences of our highly developed society is that we are losing touch with wild places. When human beings first came to these islands it was they who had to find a place amongst the wildwoods. Even a few hundred years ago much of this country was wooded, and there are not a few alive today who remember fields and hedges where now there are houses and businesses. The wildwood still holds a place within our imaginations and is the setting for so many of the stories we tell our children. It is a reminder, hidden in the recesses of our unconscious, that we are created, for ‘God breathed life into the earth creature and he became a living being’.

We have been steadily losing our sense of the seasons too: the subtle differences between early, mid- and late summer, the gentle but perceptible shift through autumn towards winter. A culture whose life used to respond to the turning of the earth now follows other patterns: the academic year, the financial year and (perhaps the most soul-destroying of all) the sales. I have never yet heard anyone express pleasure that the run up to Christmas begins in mid-September early October, and yet as much as we complain we seem also to accept this strange unseasonality as if it is inevitable.

One of the strongest messages of the Christian faith is that we are not victims of society, compelled to go with the flow. Rather we are called to take responsibility, first for our own lifestyle and then, by extension, for the world in which we live. The teaching of Jesus points us to a prayerful and intentional way of living that not only pulls society in a different direction but also prepares us to face resistance. He also reminds us that he is at work wherever people are, and that the task of believers is often simply to recognise what he is already doing.

One of the many gifts of prayer, that intimate communion with God that connects us to what is essential, is that it enables us to discover and choose life-affirming, life-giving ways so that the rut, rather than controlling us, becomes something we create and shape, our gift to ourselves, our society and those who come after.

Canon Andrew

Revd Canon Andrew Gough

October 2017


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