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And all at once, it’s spring. 

Blog — 3rd April 2020

And all at once, it’s spring.

This week has been full! Conversations, meetings by zoom, emails reproducing at a rate of knots! Concerns, confusion, chaos could have reigned I suppose.

Instead, on the whole I’ve found it a week of muscle-memory kicking in: the sense that time moves, seasons change, ‘this too shall pass’, creative spaces for thinking about new things, new ways… rekindling relationships and kindling others. Supporting and being supported. There have been inspiring moments of seeing the best in people – I’ve been privileged to be part of conversations with people working (still) with the homeless, food-provision, caring for the vulnerable; I’ve heard some incredibly stories of the least privileged people going out of their way to care for others. It’s been moving and inspiring. I’ve seen the church kick into response-mode and join others – of faith and none  – who are caring for the least in the world around us. It’s been quite the week! I’ve participated in more things on line than ever. and I’m still trying to figure out what it feels like – I swing between thinking ‘wow, this works’ to being desperate for non-screen time!  I’ve been reading (with others) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned, and trying to join some of the lessons he teaches. Rigorous exercise, reading and meditating on Scripture, contemplating the nature of the world, observing others carefully. He’s a good isolation companion!

But, because I’m also someone who wrestles non-stop  – internally and externally – it would be a lie to say its been without challenge! The reality is, the unknown is hard on us. We like to think we have some measure of control. And, just now anyway, any chimera of control we thought we exerted has been peeled away. It’s silly, isn’t it? The future is always unknown. Death is always real, and coming. Even now, we are able to do little things, of course, carry on with meals, walks, classes, teaching, tending and caring, chapel, pastoral care and budgeting… as if we can impose a measure of control! But, the truth is that the unfolding of a new world is happening around us. Not everything will change, of course, but it is certain that some things will. What, we do not know! So – I was thankful for spring today – these buds on a walk were glorious signs of hope. From the seemingly dead we realise it was only dormant, and new life is coming. I’m so aware that Easter is on its way – and the life-changing hope of the resurrection infuses everything.

Another photo I took was of a tree that always catches my eye: At some point, a fence was put up next to it: but, it has grown and absorbed it, and still it flourishes. It reminded me of the poem I share with you at least thrice a year 🙂 The Sycamore – by Wendell Berry (I’ll put it underneath). It’s powerful – and draws me to think of the way we grapple with the things that scar us. I expect as we look back on this time, we’ll share stories of the difference this season in our lives made to our whole being, perspective, faith and ways of loving others. The way we’ve absorbed the world around us, been changed by it, reshaped somewhat – but managed to stay standing – and, even bear fruit. Rooted and grounded in the love of God in Christ, the ideas of our faith -even now – shaping us for the present and the future.

Thank you for your prayers for the college. Please pray for: 

  • Sarah Whittle
  • The families with young children now at home
  • People with families in other nations
  • People in isolation, not just lock down…
  • Our students – especially those who were reliant on a second income that has now been lost
  • Our decisions, choices and actions around our finances
  • Creativity and innovation in a time of change…
  • The wider church leaders we are supporting …

With love, In Christ, 

The Sycamore – Wendell Berry

In the place that is my own place, whose earth
I am shaped in and must bear, there is an old tree growing,
a great sycamore that is a wondrous healer of itself.
Fences have been tied to it, nails driven into it,
hacks and whittles cut in it, the lightning has burned it.
There is no year it has flourished in
that has not harmed it. There is a hollow in it
that is its death, though its living brims whitely
at the lip of the darkness and flows outward.
Over all its scars has come the seamless white
of the bark. It bears the gnarls of its history
healed over. It has risen to a strange perfection
in the warp and bending of its long growth.
It has gathered all accidents into its purpose.
It has become the intention and radiance of its dark fate.
It is a fact, sublime, mystical and unassailable.
In all the country there is no other like it.
I recognize in it a principle, an indwelling
the same as itself, and greater, that I would be ruled by.
I see that it stands in its place and feeds upon it,
and is fed upon, and is native, and maker.