1. Letters

Revd Nick BirdHow are you coping, staying at home?

A letter from Revd Nick Bird

Welcome to our first fully online edition of Grapevine. For the duration of the lockdown, and because we can't send people out to deliver printed copies, we shall be putting everything on our website instead, and we shall keep doing this until we are released once more.

How are you coping? How are you managing with restricted movements, or working from home, or online shopping, or very limited social contacts? Or perhaps you are not coping at all. Is the house and garden beginning to feel like a prison? In these moments I remind myself that I'm not a single parent with three small children on the 12th floor of a block of flats – and then I feel better!

Where do you go to when you close your eyes? I know that some people are more visual than others at this, more 'imaginative', but, sitting in a comfortable chair, or lying in the darkness, close your eyes and go travelling. Escape the bonds of this virus for a moment and take yourself on a journey to places you once visited. With a bit of practice, details will start to return that you never realised had been downloaded onto the hard drive of your brain! A number of times recently, in the absence of sleep, I have tried to see how far along the Lyke Wake Walk I can go without parting from my pillow, or explore my home village of Quorn in Leicestershire, or my cycle commute along the canal-sides of Birmingham from 20 years ago (surprisingly peaceful and verdant).

Let me tell you one of my current secret pleasures (apart from Breaking Bad and Ozark, both available on Netflix): I open my laptop, go onto Google Earth, drop down into the Street View, and tour various islands. Go on, give it a go. So far I have made extensive visits to the Orkney Islands, Shetland Isles, and am currently holidaying in the Faroe Islands. With this amazing technology I can literally drive along clifftops and through remote villages, admiring lakes, lives and lovely views. All without leaving the sofa.

I should have noticed earlier, but during those times in my life when I have been most restricted, I have always turned to travelogues and stories of adventure, and escaped through the journeys of others. When I am most uncomfortable about being 'here', wherever that might be, my mind turns to all sorts of distant places by way of escape and I dream of being 'there'. Sometimes this is the only thing we can do, the only way to cope or to stay sane – escapism through the mind or through the telly. However, it was the Bishop of Geneva, Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) who is credited with the quote, “bloom where you are planted.” So simple, and yet so much harder to humanly achieve. Yes, there is wisdom in the ancients, and in those communities that have prized stability, to be static, being rooted to the spot, who have chosen to bloom where they have been planted.

Many of us would never have opted to be isolated, but there is much to learn from those who have chosen this way of life, to live in the 'here and now' (the hic et nunc of the Carthusian monks), to be free whilst going nowhere. In these difficult times, perhaps we can find new ways of flourishing without escaping, a richness in the stillness, and freedom within our four walls. To enter most deeply into the roots of our current experience and drawing on the riches we might find therein.

Nick Bird, your Rector

Revd Ruth DuckA letter from Revd Ruth Duck

Methodist colleague of Revd Dr Keith Albans (currently on sabbatical), in the York Circuit 

April’s edition of the Grapevine had the headline “There is hope to be found this Easter”. Since then, the hopes of many have been dashed by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Hopes of a good Easter holiday break; hopes of shopping for an expected baby; hopes of a flourishing business, hopes and dreams that once seemed ‘normal’ and achievable. So many lives have been changed over the last few weeks, and we no longer hardly know what ‘normal’ is! Having never been part of an online meeting before, I find that for me, it has now become a normal way of conducting business, and sharing in worship.

Of course, we hope that things will get better for the nation and the world each day, with the virus being contained or stopped altogether and the peak of serious cases and death behind us. Time will tell whether this is a vain hope, or a reality. In the meantime we have been given a rare opportunity to take some time to think about what and who really matter in our lives. The Easter Hope is one of Resurrection: New Life through death. Jesus our Saviour is the one who died to bring forgiveness and hope to us all. He is also the one who was raised to a new life, and promises that new life to all who trust in Him. Our Christian Easter, and all year round Hope is in a person who will never leave us, and whom we can trust – with our lives!

We may not be able to meet together in person at present, but we are united in the One who holds us, so let us continue to pray for one another, our communities and the world, and particularly for those whose lives have been devastated by the death of loved ones, for the ill, and for those frontline workers to whom we are so indebted.

Methodist services in the Chapel will continue as soon as it is possible. 

May you know the hope and peace of the Living Lord.