I’m about to tread another path. The path of retirement. I’ve got an idea of where this path will lead but don’t know for sure what I will encounter on the way. Another adventure awaits!
The other day I was asked what I would do with all the books I have accumulated over the years in ministry. The books I will be keeping are my poetry books and my prayer books. The two seem to go together.
In his introduction to his book ‘The Splash of Words,’ Mark Oakley says that poetry is the language of religious faith. It makes us stop amid the ‘overgrown chaos’ of the world and see its colour and beauty. I would add that poetry helps us to explore the pain too that is evident in this colourful and beautiful world.
So yes, I will be keeping my poetry books and prayer books as they go together. Poetry I believe, is meant to be read out loud. That’s why I like reading the Psalms, those ancient collection of prayers and poems, out loud too. ‘The Paraclete Psalter’ prayer book is one I will be keeping.
July 25th is set aside in the Church’s calendar as the festival of St. James who is the patron saint of this parish. Associated with St. James is the famous path, or way to Santiago de Compostela. Over the years, many people have set out on pilgrimage to walk this path or way. One of them is the current Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell. On his pilgrimage in 2016, he set himself the task of writing a sonnet each day based on his experiences and feelings of that day. These have been published in his book ‘Striking Out.’ One was entitled ‘St. James’ which you can read on page 4 of the magazine. Getting ready for my new path or way, that is retirement, my poetry books and prayer books will be my companions on this part of my journey.
Why? Because daily they will remind me of my need for God.
If you are about to tread a new path, forge a new way, begin a different journey, I hope you find companions for the journey.
“…my poetry books and prayer books will be my companions on this part of my journey. Why? Because daily they will remind me of my need for God.”
The image shows Lichfield Cathedral lit up with the words ‘Reflect, Support and Hope.’ This was part of the National Day of Reflection as we remembered one year on from the first lockdown as the pandemic struck.
What is hope?
The image of Lichfield Cathedral bearing that word reminds us of the hard work of staff in the NHS, Care Homes, Supermarkets, Schools and many others who have worked hard during this pandemic. It reminds us of the hard work of scientists and others who have quickly developed vaccines. The image reminds us of the energy that people have generated to seek solutions and care for one another. Hope is linked to hard work and energy. It sustains people through difficult times.
Hope is different to being optimistic. Being optimistic does not require any work. Hope does. Hope is much more than a general idea that things will get better.
The word ‘Hope’ is often associated with Easter and the resurrection. The belief that Christ rose from the dead being a foundation for hope. Christian hope is founded in the character of God who raised Jesus and overcame death. Hope is not wishful thinking but a firm assurance that God can be relied upon because he has acted in the world and will continue to act in the world. The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament describes hope as ‘an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ Often in the Psalms, the writer says to God, ‘My hope is in you.’
As we experience and reflect on the Easter story, are those words we echo? ‘My hope is in you?’
Have a blessed Easter season.