From the Licensed Lay Minister - September 2017

September. As I look out of the window, the poet's vision of ‘Mists and mellow fruitfulness’, is present just outside the window. There is a mist filling the valley and the apple tree is groaning under the weight of wonderfully rosy apples. Children are still - just- on holiday and their voices can be heard, shouting happily as they and a large black Labrador, play football in the field. You could say it is the perfect rural idyll - but is it?

Although we are told that life in the twenty first century is so much easier, as some famous person said - “We've never had it so good” - is it really? The countryside is full of low waged agricultural workers and the elderly, often on a fixed income, so apart from a favoured few, life is not so easy.

Rural bus services are always the first economy made by local councils, making visits to Salisbury Hospital an expedition of the magnitude of a trek to the South Pole for some. Mobile Libraries seem to be the next area to feel the axe, depriving many of the enjoyment of a good read of a winter's evening.

Enough of the downside of life - let's be more positive! Local Village Shops in our rural communities are re-invigorating village life. Not only do they provide necessities but a place to sit and have a coffee and catch up on all the local news. Posters there advertise local functions and postcards publicise needs for help or the disposal of unwanted goods - a two-way street of opportunities for local people to help each other.

Church still fulfils its role of bringing people together, is a place for passing on news of those not so well, or just back from hospital and in need of a visit for tea and a chat - its members possibly unwittingly continuing the church's medieval function of caring for the sick and needy - in their minds just being good neighbours. It also celebrates our rural heritage, with seasonal services to ask God to bless the work of the farmer and services to thank God for his abundant provisions for us all.

Well, there are the plusses and the minuses, would you rather live in town or city, or in the countryside? I know which I would choose every time it's not just looking out on streets and having neighbours that you don't really know, it's the sense of community, being able to smile and say “Good Morning" to folk you meet, without them looking alarmed, seeing a glut of apples or vegetables being offered free at the gate - and then of course, there is God's glorious countryside with a background of birdsong. Moan we may from time to time but we have so much to be thankful for.

Jo Johnson