Written by Rev Sandi Wickens - Curate of Rotherfield with Mark Cross
I wonder what your plans are for August. Traditionally August was the month where things often went a little quieter for many people, although I suspect that with our newfound freedoms many may be taking the opportunity to do the things that they haven’t enjoyed for some time. Some of us will be erupting out of our homes, others tentatively dipping a toe to see what feels right, while others will have decided to stay local and see what happens. We’re all different and have different considerations to take in to account so that we feel we and our loved ones are safe. And that’s fine, let’s remember we’re all different, remember to love others and be patient with one another as we explore this new landscape together.
At church some groups are just starting up again and others are making plans to re-launch in September. Families are planning celebrations of Baptism and Marriage; we’ve all missed these so much. There’s great joy in being able to meet face to face. It’s a pleasure to stand and listen to the bells being rung again, to look up from inside St Denys’ and see everyone together in the tower ringing, their faces glowing with smiles. Sharing a table and chatting over a cuppa feels like a treat and we are looking forward to more of those moments as the weeks go by. I’m hoping that as the weeks turn into months, we’ll still be able to hold on to something of the joy we are experiencing in these simple things of life.
Another opportunity for joy on offer is visiting ‘Open Gardens’ around the village to see the beauty that has been nurtured during the long days of lockdowns – more details of this later in the Magazine. I’m always inspired when I see other people’s gardens and marvel both at creation and at the owner’s creativity. I also look out to see what plants are growing well in the hope that if they are growing in a local garden in similar soil to my own that they might do well in my garden too.
I don’t only do this when it comes to seeing things flourish in people’s gardens but in everyday life too. When I see someone’s life flourishing in a particular area I try to find out what it is that lies behind this aspect of abundant life for them. A recent email reminded me of my tutor from college who radiated peacefulness and calm, something I admired in his character. He put his calmness down to rest. Each week he takes one day and puts everything that’s routine aside to do the things he enjoys and are lifegiving rather than draining of energy. He even switches off and puts away his phone and computer! That’s a pretty radical way of living – even for one day. The stillness and calm I admire in this man’s life haven’t always been so evident though. He told me that he saw this quality in another man and yearned for it in his own life at a stressful time, so he copied him. That other man’s name is Jesus.
The bible often mentions that Jesus went to a quiet place away from the crowds to be on his own with his father God. It was here, without all the demands of the people around him that Jesus truly rested. Alone he was able to spend time simply resting in his father’s presence and the bible tells us he also prayed. In the presence of the one person who knew him through and through Jesus was able to relax completely. No one was watching him to see what he would do or say, no one was demanding anything from him. He was simply able to be himself, to be refreshed and restored before carrying on with everything life had in store for him.
I pray that whatever your plans are for this August that you might be able to come away from everything that’s happening around you and simply be, even if you are in a season of busy family life and you can only snatch a few moments. May August hold the opportunity for us all to be refreshed and restored ready for all that life has in store for each one of us.