NOVEMBER LETTER FROM THE RECTOR
have I sought thee, O beauty so ancient and so new
recounting the story of his life, the writer here describes an
experience not unknown to many who have spent their lives seeking
after God. It's actually St. Augustine, in his 'Confessions',
speaking of how it was only 'lately' that he had come to see
something which had been there all along, and to see it now afresh.
'Late have I sought thee', he admits: only recently has he come to
seek 'God' in a new and different way. No longer does he seek God as
he had done, in the things of this world, all of which have let him
down and led him to grief. Now, later in life, he wakes anew and
afresh to a 'beauty' which had been there 'within him', in him and
for him, all along: although it's taken him the journey of a
lifetime to see it aright.
of us may have been on a similar journey. An early confidence,
perhaps, that we have got life all sown up, or understand the things
that really matter to us. Then a period of confusion, or of lostness,
or bad experience, which leaves us thinking that our old view of the
world has gone for ever.... and then a fresh understanding that
perhaps we weren't so far wrong in the first place, but needed to
come at things anew, and with a different perspective. A 'beauty, so
ancient and so new', perhaps begins to dawn on us afresh.
first Sunday of the month (November 5) contains within it the
morning celebration of All Saints, a traditional celebration of
Christian hope, in all three parishes, and then the afternoon
commemoration of All Souls, at the Annual Memorial Service held at
Cradley to remember all who have died, and particularly those known
to us. The second Sunday of the month (12 November) is Remembrance
Sunday, when in our churches we commemorate all who have died in
war, and pledge ourselves again to work for peace. These two
commemorative days call to mind events which have to do with crisis
and bereavement, both for individuals and for societies as a whole:
times which lead to crises of faith and a re-examination of the
values by which we live. Both World Wars in the twentieth century
are often said to have seen an increase in prayer and in
church-going among the general public whilst they lasted: yet both
are cited as reasons why our society subsequently lost faith in God
and in the church, because, as I've heard more than one war veteran
say, 'the fighting didn't stop on a Sunday.'
the experience of finding again that 'beauty so ancient and so new'
belongs not only to individuals but also to communities and
societies. Perhaps this and every commemorative November can be a
step on the road to healing, to recovery, and to renewal..