United Benefice of Morton and Stonebroom with Shirland


This month’s Parish letter is from Rev. John Wood.

Dear Friends,

At Ormonde Fields where I play golf, there are a number of lakes/ponds. (I am not sure how big a pond has to be before it is called a lake). The one that is definitely a lake has to be negotiated at the first hole and collects many balls on route towards the hole. However, it is also a home or watering hole for wildlife. Two families of coots greeted us on our return after lockdown, coming dashing towards us as we neared the lake, the youngsters so tame we could have picked them up. Apart from the regular ducks and moorhens the occasional visitors include a heron and a hare. Last week as we neared the end of the round we walked passed a family of moorhens with two tiny black bundles which were the new born chicks. I enjoy ‘the long walk…’enhanced by the beauty of the surroundings and the variety of wildlife.

By contrast the lane where I walk our two dogs has seen an increase in people enjoying the countryside. Sadly, it has also involved an increase in discarded cans, bottles and other assorted rubbish. Local news has also covered stories of the remains of barbecues and picnics left to mar the landscape and provide a hazard to wildlife. I am grateful to the many volunteers both local and in the wider countryside who spend time clearing the debris.

Our world seems to be full of these contrasts – of beauty and ugliness, of generosity and greed, of care and thoughtlessness, of loving actions and damaging ones. For many in the world, they have little choice to live with the ugliness because they have been caught up in warfare or oppression. Again, there are many who seek to bring health and healing into these situations often at great cost to themselves.

I wonder how much lockdown has been an opportunity to reflect on those things that are important both individually, nationally and internationally. We have all faced the same threat, hidden from view yet so powerful. Two things can focus our thoughts. The first is our recognition of sharing a common humanity with the world. The second is the desire to maintain the beauty of the earth on which we live.

I am reminded in the New Testament of the words of St Paul in one of his letters to the young churches.  On this occasion to the Church in Philippi. ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praise-worthy – think about such things’. At the time Paul was writing life was hard. ‘Human rights’ had not been thought of and the life and security of people was not safe. With that as the background to their lives his words will have been profound. In the present time for us they are equally so and worth taking as a basis for thought and action. We wish you all continued good health and well-being in the month to come.                           

John Wood

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