LETTER FROM THE VICARAGE
Very sadly, our Vicar, Rev Pauline Lucas, died in April 2020. Therefore we are reproducing here the monthly letter from our Licensed Lay Minister Janice Taylor as it appears in our parish magazine, the Parish News.
Letter from the vicarage
JANICE'S JOTTINGS - NOVEMBER 2020
November is our month for remembering, isn't it? I can hardly believe that it is upon us once again - but it is! I don't know about you but I am finding it increasingly difficult to remember most things...where did I put my keys?...What day is it?....What have I come here for?...What am I supposed to be doing?...and so on... The American poet, Emily Dickinson, must have had similar difficulties remembering as the poem below suggests:
“A thought went up my mind to-day
That I have had before,
But did not finish, — some way back,
I could not fix the year,
Nor where it went, nor why it came
The second time to me,
Nor definitely what it was,
Have I the art to say.
But somewhere in my soul, I know
I've met the thing before;
It just reminded me — 't was all —
And came my way no more.”
Well, I don't think Emily Dickinson was referring to such things as lost keys and such mundane matters but nonetheless she speaks of the difficulties we all experience in remembering. Yet remember we must. We can't change the past but the fact is that our present lives are experienced because of what has happened in the past, whether good or bad. Whatever our views on war and its ills, we owe it to those men and women who sacrificed their lives for what they believed in, to remember them - not to glorify war in any way but to be grateful for what they did to steady foundations upon which later generations might benefit. As we move towards November 11th I am inevitably thinking of World Wars One and Two but I do believe that in our remembering we should call to mind the terrible sufferings of all those caught up in current conflicts and also past wars over history that our own country may have had a hand in - and not a hand that was necessarily an honourable one. We tend to think always of what or who belongs to us when we remember but that is too short-sighted to my mind when it comes to war. We must surely remember with gratitude those who gave their lives to bring certain evils to an end but also we must remember with great sorrow that such wars also brought about great suffering. Wilfred Owen, the well-known WW1 poet wrote - “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”
And so as we remember that we are all members of the whole human family, whatever our race or beliefs, we must attempt to make good out of any suffering we may have caused to others - whether that be on the world stage in our peace keeping efforts and in our relief operations or whether it be in our day to day relationships with one another.
Thinking of our past too, whether it be our wider historical past or our own personal histories, we can be thankful for those who have brought about the miracles of modern science - vaccines, surgeries, healthy diets - that have impacted positively on our lives; thankful for those family members and friends who have been sources of strength and who have helped to shape our lives. There is much to be thankful for. And there is more to be done of course in impoverished areas of own society and in other places in our world that are not yet able to benefit from the good that is available. As Christians we have a mandate from Jesus to love our enemies, to seek justice for all, to seek to end poverty - but it's really a responsibility for all of us whatever our beliefs or non-beliefs, just simply as members of the human race to build a better future for all.
Finally, as we greet this month of November we are coming to the close of what has been an incredibly difficult year for all of us - for our families, for our communities, for our country and for our world. Much has been said of the language being used around this pandemic. We are 'fighting' this virus - we must not let it 'defeat' us...etc.. Well, I may not personally appreciate the language I hear out of my screens but I do know that we all have to persevere in attitudes and actions that will support one another. So much good has been done by neighbour to neighbour in our communities - so much kindness has been shown. These things we need to remember. There is hope. These times will pass. These particular words from Emily Dickinson's poem spoke to me:
'But somewhere in my soul, I know
I've met the thing before;
It just reminded me...'
They spoke to me because somewhere in my own soul I know that God remembers me with love, that God remembers all of us with love. Now no vicar/theologian or Christian can ever give an adequate answer to the question of suffering and the problem of pain but, for me, I am constantly reminded that God's Self is no stranger to suffering and that God never ever leaves us to carry suffering alone.
So, however we remember this month, let's remember with hope...and whatever we remember, let's remember to be kind to one another...
Love and blessings, Janice x