Monthly message from the vicar

On Solitude and Community

These beautiful spring days have brought both trials and joys. The vicarage garden is getting more time and attention than ever before since I came to serve in these parishes. Parks and gardens have always been places where if I sit and am still amidst the buzz of bees and the birdsong I become aware of God’s goodness holding those I love and pray for. That sense of God’s holding isn’t always easy: I’ve often been most aware of it in times of deep sadness and loss, when my prayers and thoughts have been bitter and angry. Yet it has been in solitude that I had learned to expect to encounter the divine. 

Now, alongside those moments of solitary awareness and meditation as the weeks of social distancing have turned into months I’ve as often found God in the faces and conversations with others. The smile of the postperson as they bring the delight of letters with news of friends and family; the small headshot of a friend through the medium of technology, the additional thoughts and greetings in work emails.  It has been especially visible in the commitment and kindness of health professionals visiting my father in law to find ways of continuing to bring us small moments of respite and support and in all the ways that village groups and individuals are looking after each other and bringing food and prescriptions and a smile or conversation.
I have relearned that if the glory of God is a human being fully alive that human being needs both solitude and company; both quiet and conversation. I have never felt more grateful for the kindness of strangers as well as friends.

I hope that whether you are alone and yearn for company or accompanied and yearn for a little more privacy and space that you will find the balance of both sustains you physically, emotionally and spiritually to become more fully alive.
I still don’t know what it might look like to be the vicar in these parishes during this season of Covid-19 but amidst my solitary praying and the technological gathering of those who are separated there is new joy and new company as I have a new associate priest colleague the Rev’d Karen Rizzello who was licensed to join us thanks to a  Zoom-ing Bishop Andrew. I look forward to being able to invite people to meet Karen as and when that becomes possible.

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