Clergy Letter for June 2022

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveller, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;”

(Opening verse of ‘The Road not Taken’

by Robert Frost, 1874-1963)

If life is a journey, we sometimes find ourselves in a siding waiting for the points to change….waiting to move from a familiar worn track…. to a line which curves out of sight – to a landscape as yet unknown. These transitional times in life are very significant and not to be hurried or overfilled with trivia. Sometimes the transition is planned; leaving school and moving to college; graduating and launching into our career; or retiring from full-time employment. Sometimes it is thrust upon us; sudden illness or bereavement or being made redundant.

In our Benefice June is a time of transition. Rev Chris Simpson reaches retirement age and is taking time out to consider what particular ministry God is calling her to next. At the end of the month, we welcome Rev Christine Alexander, newly ordained and moving up from Wiltshire to serve our churches as Curate. Transition times are times to adjust our pace, to recover our energies and reflect on experiences; good and bad. They are times to be observant; to pay attention to what is happening around us and within us. Can we hear God’s voice and sense his guiding presence?

In the Old Testament (1 Kings 19) we meet a dynamic prophet called Elijah who stood up to King Ahab and challenged him to stop playing with pagan deities and trust Israel’s God. After a dramatic showdown with the pagan prophets, he takes himself off into the wilderness exhausted and dispirited. Alone and spent, he lies down under a broom tree and prays to die. We are told that an angel wakes him, gives him food and drink and bids him rest, after more sleep the angel returns with more food to strengthen him for a long walk to the holy mountain – Horeb, where he waits for God in a cave. There came a great and powerful wind….but God was not in the wind. Then there came an earthquake…..but God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire…..but God was not in the fire. Finally, there came a gentle whisper; some translations call it ‘the sound of silence’ and Elijah covered his face with his cloak and went to the mouth of the cave to meet and talk with God.

Times of transition are often where we find God, but only if we are rested, strengthened and still enough to listen to our soul; something which is rare in the rush and pressure of daily life. I hope you can make some time this Summer to rest, reflect and listen.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Rev Becky Richards, Late May 2022.