Last week, I was lucky enough to get a couple of days away by way of a post Easter break. As usual in these situations I travelled with the dogs up to Shropshire. Once there I was able to engage in two of my favourite activities – walking the dogs and visiting churches. My favourite walking spot is Mortimer Forest, it’s a Forestry Commission site just above Ludlow. As you drive to the car-park there is an amazing view of Ludlow Castle and Parish Church below. You can walk for miles through the forest without meeting another soul, very useful when your dogs are as ill disciplined as mine are! The walk completed, I drive a little distance into Hereford only perhaps 1.5 miles, to a tiny church called St Giles Pipe Aston. It is quite amazing. With the accompanying farm buildings it makes a perfect Medieval hamlet. The interior is equally spectacular, always open to view and pray, the walls are covered with paintings discovered in the 19th Century, and later realised to not be of Medieval origin, but one of the only churches with an intact Norman painted interior. To sit in this church is to reconnect with the whole history of Christian faith in these islands, a quiet, unobtrusive but permanent presence in the landscape. In this church I say my morning prayer (Office). This church has endured so much over the years, reformations, wars, commonwealths and restorations. Yet it is still here, witnessing quietly to the presence of God. When we are bombarded with so much in our church today, it is good to sit, be still and know.
It was good to join with members of our congregation at our Annual Parochial Church Meeting on Sunday to discuss events of the past year, to look forward to the year ahead, and to give thanks for all that God is doing in our life at St Nick’s. To quote Jean Vanier, founder of l’Arche community:
A community is like an orchestra: each instrument is beautiful when it plays alone, but when they all play together, each given its own weight in turn, the result is even more beautiful. A community is like a garden full of flowers, shrubs and trees. Each helps to give life to the others.
With every blessing