The Rector writes
Dear Friends in Christ,
We all need a ‘pause button’ in our day when we can stop, and put our talk, and activities and plans on hold, and in the space that is created, we can become aware of the deeper realities and dimensions of our lives.
Sometimes that pause button is pressed by another person – a child needing a cuddle, an older person need us to stop, listen and go at their pace, a voice on the radio saying something that brings tears to the eyes, a news item with pictures that make us aware how difficult life is for some people; or its a bird outside the window that makes us smile, the colour of an autumn leaf on a path, driving rain bouncing off the road; or its a piece of music, a line in a poem. All these things can suddenly make us sense something beautiful and mysterious in our lives, something that is a gift.
November could be the ‘pause button’ of the year. Despite the fact that it’s often the end of sunshine and warmth, that it’s a month of drizzle and extra darkness – it really doesn’t have much beauty – it call us to pause, take a look at our lives, and contemplate death. It offers us the opportunity to go beneath the surface of things, and quietly ponder, remember and look for God.
First we celebrate All Saints Day, God’s followers through all generations; then we remember the ‘holy souls’, the ‘faithful departed’, especially those we have known and loves, and played with and worked with, and we remember (we try to do it with courage and faith) that we too will die.
“Remember how short my life is!” cries the psalmist in Psalm 88. And the Buddhists tell us that a day when we do not remember our dear is a day wasted.
Far from being a morbid though, that pause to remember our mortality can focus our minds, (rather like being at a funeral can) and enable us to cut through all the ‘stuff’ our lives are made up of, and find the essential things that are important. Something that pause can bring us face to face with difficult things and memories, with loss and hurt, but sometimes the pause can help us find the courage we need to being something again. November can be a soulful pause – if we can open our hearts to it.
On 2nd November, we will pause together in Church. Before the busyness of shopping and preparing for Christmas takes over our lives, we will gather in dozens, even hundreds, and stop to think about the gift of life, the sadness of death, and the mystery of life beyond death. There is something remarkably beautiful about a lot of people doing this together, about people braving the cold and the sadness to light a candle and proclaim their hope in a God who reaches out to us in life and in death.
On 8th November, we will gather again in our dozens and hundreds, in Church and at cenotaphs, to remember those who died in war, and to pray for peace. There too, we will be certain that death is not the end. We will perhaps grieve at the bleakness of so many lives that today are still dominated by war, but we will publicly speak of our determination to live in the hope that we can create a better future.
Before December, Advent and Christmas are upon us, let’s pause and take in the gift that November can bring. (Yes, I am reminding myself of this too!) Let the stark beauty of the season make an impact on you; allow yourself to be stopped unexpectedly by music, nature, poetry, the life of another person, and remember your mortality, and the amazing, unending love of God for you.
You are precious in God’s eyes.
With love and prayers,