I hope that many of you have been able to get a holiday of some sort this summer. What a strange summer it has been! Not only have we had wearing masks in shops and public indoor spaces, physical distancing and limited numbers of households in our home, but there has also been the debacle of the A level and GCSE results. It has been a tough year for all our young people, and people may have been disappointed by cancelled holidays, lack of opportunities to play or watch sport, visit galleries and spend time with family. And what about the weather? An incredible heat wave followed by thunderstorms, strong winds and rain.
However, it has not all been bad news. We opened St Mary’s church for services at the beginning of August and have enjoyed seeing each other again on Sundays in church – however different it may be, wearing our masks, not singing hymns and being careful to keep distance from each other – at least we have returned after 5 long months.
Last year, the field behind The Rectory garden had been planted with rape seed. As the autumn progressed into winter and on into spring, we watched to see what would be planted this year. The field was ploughed, planted, fertilised, sprayed and green shoots appeared. As summer emerged through lockdown, the field became increasingly golden, providing the most beautiful views in early morning and evening as the sun lit up the radiant wheat field. A growing pile of husks appeared on our side of the fence as the squirrels foraged for food. Eventually, in the early days of the heatwave, we watched the crop being harvested and the stalks formed into giant Weetabix. The harvest was in before the rain.
In the letter I wrote last September, I spoke about the inevitably of change, and our response to change. Well, this year has certainly been a year of unimaginable change – people already talk about pre-Covid and post-Covid as two different periods of time. But some things remain – the seed was planted and grew until harvest. The natural cycle continued due to our clement weather with abundant rain in February and sunshine through spring and summer. In Genesis chapter 8, when Noah had survived the flood with his family and a boat full of animals, God made this promise, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Although I think that the account of the flood is a story to illustrate truth (that is paralleled in other world religions), nevertheless, I believe that God was indicating his desire to protect the world – and of course, we are given the responsibility of being the world’s caretakers, looking after it on God’s behalf.
It will be great to have the nursery and school open again. Any new situation of change is challenging, and I will be thinking of you all as you start in a new class or even a new nursery, school, college or university. September is so often the season of new beginnings, and whoever you are, and whatever this month holds for you and your family and friends, I pray that God will be with you, and that He will see you through.
With my love, Bill MacDougall