Monday, 30 September 2013

The first harvest festival

There is nothing like a busy day and a good night's rest to put life in perspective! The first of several benefice harvest services is over. The small village church was alive with flower arrangers on Saturday and people bringing donations of fresh produce. It certainly looked like a bumper year for crops. The Rectory garden was able to provide raspberries, sweet corn, runner beans, apples, tomatoes and spinach. This is the first time I have had a garden harvest for many years. Being new in the village, I was aware that people have been decorating the churches for years and I didn't even realise they had started until the Rector@6 happened to pop in and found a hive of industry. I did know that there wasn't a regular harvest loaf maker so I decided to spend my Saturday morning making one. Kneading bread must be one of the most therapeutic activities there is! All those teaching years with salt dough and play dough paid off, and I was pleased with the result.

The church really did look splendid. In a village surrounded by farms, there is a particular relevance to Harvest festivals. We have all witnessed the long hours the farmers have worked to bring in the crops as the tractors thundered through the village to empty their trailers. We have watched the changes in the weather - hoping that it won't affect the yields. The fields are already ploughed and replanted and so the landscape has changed through a spectrum of colours from the green ripening shoots, to the golden stalks, to the dusky yellowing stubble and back to the rich brown or chalky white soil that village is built on. The flower displays reflected all these colours and also remembered the harvesting of the sea with some poor little sardines that had been washed up on a beach and brought back to the village, dried and added to the church displays!

A traditional service attracted regular and not so regular churchgoers and the church was full. What a difference it makes to sing hymns of praise with so many voices! If only these rural churches were full more often as they can radiate such warmth and sense of community. Yet many people are moving away from wanting to recognise or believe in a God who loves them. Attending church doesn't seem relevant to their lives as they are struggling to make ends meet or are busy working to provide for their families. And yet this church will be busy on Monday morning with people coming for a chat and coffee at the regular coffee morning and bric-a-brac stall run to support the church building fund. The harvest lunch that followed the service, was bustling with people. So I suppose the Church has to look at its changing role in these small communities. It is very much wanted to carry out the 'matching and dispatching' of parishioners. It is wanted for traditional festivals like Easter, Christmas and Harvest. It is wanted because it is there and has been there for hundreds of years. It's strange how the focus of a church very quickly becomes fund raising and then they are perceived as always chasing money. Perhaps it is even more important for rural churches to turn and look outside the doors of these beautiful buildings and seek out where they can serve best.

I nearly forgot to mention that on our return from holiday, we had difficulty getting to the rectory front door due to the arrival of fifty or sixty yellow squashes that seemed to be breeding on the doorstep! They had been there all weekend. Nobody will own up to  placing them there we can't thank them but they made us laugh!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Why would anyone want to be a vicar....or a vicar's wife?

The honeymoon is over and the clouds are rolling in. We knew it had to come to an end but the reality of the life we find ourselves in, is hard to take. We ended our summer holiday with four days next to the beach with no television, internet or telephone. We thought we were energized, refreshed and ready to go, but the coal face is a lot harder than we anticipated. I have been alongside The Rector@6 through 3 very, very long days and the contrast with the peace and silence we had experienced last week was vivid. So many voices, so many personal agendas, so much talking and being talked at. I hope that this really isn't the Kingdom of God because right now, I don't want to be part of it. I feel bruised and exhausted and I can't imagine how The Rector@6 feels. Right at this moment I want to go home......I will write more when things are more in perspective and I am less tired. I write so that I can reread this at a later date and know that things did get better.

The problem of being the vicar's wife is that you feel no one comes as a genuine friend, they all eventually want to tell you where the church has gone wrong or how it could be better if it was done this way or that way. I suspect this is in the hope that I will pass it on. I am tired of talking about church.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

So that was the summer

Our last summer walk from Corfe Castle to the coast at Swannage.
Summer is over. I am sitting next to a roaring fire and through the window I can see the predicted gale tossing the trees so violently that they are forced to surrender their leaves. The Rector@6 and I are on our summer holiday. We have had some time to explore Dorset and now we have escaped back to Devon to put up our feet for a day or two. (At this present moment The Rector@6 is changing the light fittings in this room.)
The real summer has been full of shows, festivals and harvesting. Our rectory has been filled, each week in August, with a lunch and then evening summer course run by the rector. In between all of this, we have managed some lovely days out. Pictures are better than words.....and at the moment I seem to have very few words to write. Maybe it will be easier after our 'summer' holiday.
 For now, here is a taste of our new life.

The beaches are varied and glorious!

We live in the countryside where Thomas Hardy was born and where many of his books are set.

We are next door to an amazing annual steam fair!

We managed to get to the Christian Greenbelt festival for one day!

The weather has been good and the natives friendly! Here is our Faith, Hope and Love lunchtime course sharing lunch in the rectory garden. We had five sunny Tuesdays in a row in August / September - allowing both the evening and lunchtime groups to eat outside. It has been good to get to know so many people and I hope they will feel enthused to work together to build up our six rural churches. It has been good to talk - now the work begins!