Hugh's pastoral letter February 2021


I have just bought myself a little book packed with goodies. Even better, the chapters are only 2 or 3 pages long. Imagine my delight when I came upon Chapter 4: 'Staying Put'! That sounds a promising field for research in our current situation.

We don't have any option at present, do we? One of the most telling sentences I've heard recently was, "your best defence is your front door!" Unlike our previous lockdown events, there is less evidence of wriggling around the restrictions and more of an inclination to be responsible and to stay put.

But being cooped up is a challenge, whether alone or with others. So let's see how this theme might be developed. The poet W. H. Auden once wrote that it is easy enough to say 'I will love you for ever'; the difficult thing was to say (and mean), 'I will love you at 4.15 next Thursday'. I cannot speak for you, but this grouchy old guy with his mood swings knows exactly what Auden is talking about. But …. a word in my own defence: I'm staying put.

I remember a married couple who won the Dunmow Flitch, a side of bacon awarded to the pair who could prove that no harsh words had passed between them in the previous year. But then John always did as he was told! Not me, I'm afraid. I have to pay for all my bacon! But back to my little book: 'the truth is that we betray love ultimately not by feelings of impatience or even hostility, but by the desire to be somewhere else with people and circumstances other than the ones actually in front of our noses'.

So here is the key: having the grit, the determination, to stick with it and rebuff the impulse to 'walk'. Now, more than ever we are summoned to live lives of faithful love and being alongside, being there for one another in whatever way might present itself. And it is my prayer that "the whole world may know itself to be accompanied, held and treasured" [with gratitude to Rowan Williams Candles in the Dark SPCK 2020]

Every blessing,
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