The minister writes… from our November 2021 newsletter

Dear friends,

For our eldest son’s fifth birthday we bought him two guinea pigs: Pinky and Perky (of course!) Little did we know it then but that was the start of many more guinea pigs and rabbits to come. Our last rabbit died a couple of weeks ago, at the ripe old age of 8 ½ years. With her gone, it is the first time in THIRTY-TWO years I don’t have to go out to a hutch several times a day and there’s no pet to give the vegetable peelings to. It feels very strange.

It is the end of an era. And it got me thinking about the various stages and seasons of our lives. There are so many, aren’t there? Our childhoods, followed by our youthful years of romance and marriage.  Then the years of our prime, working and maybe bringing up families. Then in sneaks middle-age with its blurry and moveable edges. I like to think that I’m middle-aged at 62 but unless I’m going to reach 124, I guess I have to admit to being at the very least, late middle-aged – I don’t like that thought at all! So it goes on.

Getting older can bring joys:  maybe the blessing of grandchildren and a chance to relive some of those earlier years with more patience and greater wisdom…..but there can be sadness too and perhaps you have experienced the grief of bereavement and the struggle to redefine yourself.

Those changing scenes of life are reflected in nature and the ever-turning seasons. My two favourites are spring and autumn. There’s an unrivalled though different beauty to each. In spring it is all emergence and growth, blossoming and budding and full of promise. But then in autumn, ah, the changes all around – the chill of the early mornings and late evenings, the stars brighter at night, and the glory of nature’s colours! It is spectacular isn’t it? The final triumphant blaze before things die down to rest over winter.

We can’t stop the turning of the seasons and we can’t stop the passage of the years, even if we tried, but we are reminded of the preciousness of the present moment. That is all we ever truly have or can claim as ours which is why it is so important to make it count. As Etienne de Grellet said: “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

So if you feel you are in the autumn of life, don’t let it bring you low. Instead, give thanks to God for all that has gone before, all that you have experienced and learned, all those whom you have loved and been loved by. Give thanks that although our bodies don’t work quite as well as they used to, our hearts and souls are unaffected. We have more time now to simply be, to listen to God’s voice, to find that inner stillness that eluded us when we were rushing around in our younger years.

Give thanks to God, too, for all that now is and all that is yet to come. Blaze with the autumn glory of soul that can only come because you have already experienced spring and summer. Remember, and rest in his love.

With every blessing,