Rector's November 2014 Letter

I have written before about November being a time for remembering, not just on Remembrance Sunday but also on the Church Festivals of All Saints and All Souls which fall at the beginning of the month.  It seems an appropriate time for memories at this time of year.  As the year starts to draw to a close it is natural to look back and reflect on the time that has passed under our personal bridges, and the happy and sad droplets that make up that flow.

This year, I have had a personal reminder of how important memories can be; and also of their fragility and the importance of nurturing them.  I have never been a keen photographer; perhaps partly because my father was a great enthusiast and expert and so as children do I rather took it all for granted.  Taking photographs on holiday was always something I rather avoided, thinking that it was better to just ‘experience the moment’ than to worry about trying to capture it on film or SD card.

This autumn, though, we had a rather different sort of holiday planned – to walk the West Highland Way from Glasgow to Fort William.  I wondered about taking a camera, and decided that as it would probably be wet, I wouldn’t want to use my phone.  So I bought a waterproof camera, and having bought it, thought I had better justify the purchase by using it!

I am so glad I did.  Rather than getting in between me and the experience, I found that having a camera at the ready helped me to notice the beauty around me.  It is hard to miss it in the Highlands, even on a rainy day, but on a long day’s walk sometimes ‘getting there’ takes the top layer of attention and ‘being there’ gets forgotten.

But even more than that, I am finding the pictures a revelation now that I am back.  In a digital photo frame, or as a computer screensaver, they drift past – individual moments that might otherwise just have merged themselves into a general remembrance of hills and lochs.  A bright red spotted toadstool; a perfect little cross formed by leaves in a puddle; the ears of a deer just emerging from a patch of grass; the tiny details as well as the grand vistas and memorable climbs.  And with each of these glimpses, a reminder; I was there; I did that; it was real.  And a moment of thankfulness.

I read a suggestion last year that I thought was an excellent one, though I have not yet tried to implement it.  The idea was to set up a ‘memories board’ on which to pin things that would remind us of what we have accomplished and enjoyed.  A twirl of wool from a knitting project; the ticket stubs from a trip or play; postcards and photos of growing families.  The author clears his board every so often and keeps the reminders in large envelopes, but the most important thing is the visible reminder of life’s variety, and a reminder that time has not just ‘passed’, much less been ‘wasted’ but has been ‘spent’ – and sometimes wisely.

Every time we remember, that memory is recalled and polished and put back a little stronger and brighter than it was before.  By recalling the good times we are actually strengthening and building ourselves up for whatever the future holds.   As St Paul says in his letter to the Philippians when he is talking about ‘the peace of God, which passes all understanding’- ‘whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’

Each time we feel thankful for our past times, we are connecting with the love that surrounds us; for how can we be thankful without realising somewhere deep down that life is a gift, and that behind the gift is a loving Giver?

 

Rev’d Karen Spray              church@revdkaren.org.uk             01392 877400


Rector's Pages
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