From the Curate - March 2019

As I sit to write this article it is wonderful to notice a moment of peace in what has been a rather full week. Two days ago we completed our move into Donhead St Andrew from Shaftesbury. In this moment I am aware of the peacefulness and beauty of our surroundings and of feeling very blessed by God at being called to serve in such a lovely part of the Diocese. In my short time in fully rural ministry I have already gained an insight into the joys but also the challenges that rural living can bring. I am sure now that we have moved I shall gain even greater insight into these aspects of rural living.

In this moment of stillness and silence I am also reminded that Lent is nearly here and in a short time we will be possibly thinking about what we will be giving up for Lent. When I was a child I remember an older member of the parish saying this would be the year she gave up sugar in her coffee I wondered if she had a rolling calendar of items she gave up each Lent but she explained that a few years before she had given up sugar in her coffee for Lent. By the time she got to the end of Lent, however, she couldn’t drink coffee with sugar in it. The following year she thought hard about what to give up as she no longer had sugar in her coffee and then came up with the idea that she would put the sugar in and force herself to drink it. But then, by the end of Lent when she had her first coffee without sugar she didn’t like it so she waited for the following Lent to give it up again! So the rolling pattern started of giving up sugar one year and adding it the next.

This is a good example to us that we can choose to do something extra during Lent rather than the idea of simply giving up sugar or meat or alcohol. It might be that we attend Morning Prayer or mid-week Eucharist or that we simply find quiet time for prayer and contemplation. It may be visiting the lonely or grieving neighbour or volunteering at a local charity.

Jesus entered the desert for forty days and forty nights after his baptism in the Jordan. It was a time for him to be alone before God, to have a focus on his relationship with the Father and the world before his public ministry began. We can follow the example of Jesus by finding a way to give up or add something into our lives this Lent that will offer us an opportunity to know God, ourselves or our world better. We may feel uncomfortable or put out in the beginning but like the older parishioner above we may well get to the end of Lent and realise we cannot bear to go back to being who we were before Lent started.

We will hopefully also be in a spiritual and emotional place where we can notice the joys of living where we do more clearly and realise we are not alone when we face the challenges that will inevitably arise as we journey through another year together.