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October letter

Dear everyone.
This month I’m breaking new ground. I’m making progress in writing a book. The idea has been simmering for a long time. There has been an element of procrastination and nervousness on my part; but several friends have expressed the view, unprompted by me, that I ought to write a book which would be an anthology based on thoughts expressed in my monthly newsletter blog.
It will require much concentrated work to prepare, and my hope is that it will be ready in the New Year, when, ‘God willing’, I celebrate during the summer the 60th year of my ordination. The title will probably be ‘In Times of Transition.’
It will cover a whole range of reflections on life both from the point of view of one’s own involvement in dementia care home, police chaplaincy, and general pastoral visiting ,but observations on living in times of great change including personal change,especially over the last nine years. Hopefully readers will find thoughts about ways in which we can be more proactively involved in society, in the environment, and discovering insights which help our spiritual needs from whatever direction we come
Many friends and relations have already offered help and advice which has been thankfully received. Your prayers would be valued in the undertaking of this venture.
With every blessing for the autumn season
Yours Sincerely,
David.

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September letter

Dear everyone.
Nine years ago I had to give up cycling because of surgery, and I never got back into it. I was very fond of my cycle really because it had been given to me when I worked in the Shetland Islands by my Lerwick congregation some 30 years ago. My previous cycle had been badly corroded by the sea salt!
It was a mountain bike, and not only had it served me well in the islands but also in St Albans and here in Nottingham for about 20 years-a first class way of getting some exercise, and often meeting many people in the streets as well and having a word with them, a very valuable part of community pastoral care.
Now it was lying in the garage. I was wondering whether to sell it on eBay , but then I had a thought. Although it needed some cleaning up and minor adjustments it still looked in good working order, so I approached the headmaster of the local special needs school to see whether any students there could make good use of it. There was a positive response. He immediately had in mind a good candidate who would be given some training in cycle maintenance and given the cycle after he had completed the task.
Quite frankly I felt delighted that it could go to a ‘good home.’
Somehow I felt that the kind gesture of the Shetland folk presenting me with a cycle was being passed on to someone of a younger generation who would now make good use of it.
There used to be an old song which went ‘if you have a kindness shown, pass it on.’
Life must be full all kinds of good things that we can pass on. May we all join in the ‘succession’ of kind and generous acts as well as kind thoughts to others.
With all good wishes, sincerely, David.

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August letter

August letter.
Dear everyone.
Holidays were originally ‘Holy Days.’ Frequently people went on pilgrimage to some place of special spiritual significance- like people go through France and Spain today to Santiago de Compostela, and find renewal in whatever their situation may be as a result.
For many people today a holiday is simply about going somewhere different. In retirement many people who can afford it make world tours visiting places they have never been before, to others it is simply to go somewhere like beside the seaside either still in this country or especially other parts of Europe
Others might go on artists, or music courses, walking, visiting gardens or even going on holiday to help other people have a holiday.
It needn’t be a long way away but it needs to be something that is completely different from what we are doing from day to day. There is a saying that ‘a change is as good as a rest.’ For others the element of entertainment is important or a time of celebration; but holidays sometimes should have an element of exploration or discovery about them or simply remind us that ‘variety is the spice of life.’.
We might even be in a situation where we can invite a friend who badly needs one to have a holiday with us. It is also good for us to be holiday visitors ourselves to friends who may be lonely and who are unable to visit themselves
May all of us with our different kind of holidays find that they freshen us up, inwardly renew us and so help us on our way with the tasks that lie ahead.
Wherever possible. HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!
Yours sincerely,
David

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monthly letter

Monthly letter.July.
Dear friends.
About five years ago I was singing hymns in a worship service that I was leading and afterwards Val Machell, late co-leader of the Soundswell choir in Nottingham came up to me and said ‘I want you to join our choir, and I’m not taking no for an answer.’
This invitation could not have come at a better time.It was in the early months of my bereavement, and I soon found that I was getting a great deal of satisfaction singing music from all over the world. I still enjoy singing hymns of course. This however was a breath of fresh air, and during the holiday seasons of the year I find myself missing the uplift of regular singing and learning how to use my voice in a far better way to sing.
Singing can help us through all kinds of life experiences, sometimes helping us to express our inner feelings better, at other times taking us away from a negative thinking. Singing can be likened to a form of praying and there is the famous saying of St Augustine that the one ‘who sings prays twice!’
Does singing offer a challenge to us? I believe it does. Perhaps people don’t seem quite so much in their individual everyday activities. I believe however that many people would find more delight in life by singing more, and a good community choir, whether you can read music or not can be a great source of inspiration.
Good singing is something for us all to enjoy, and can even inspire us towards better ways of expressing life and contributing to the well-being of us all.
May we all find blessings as we sing.
With all good wishes,
Sincerely, David.

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June letter

June letter.

Dear Everyone.

What surprises me is how many different forms loneliness can take. Here are just a few.

There is the loneliness of those that have no friends because they find it very difficult to make friends. For some, things have happened   which make them very nervous and not able to trust in others to build long-term relationships again. Others have lost loved ones through bereavement after being together for very long periods of time, and the very bottom has dropped out of their lives. There are those who have had painful experiences of divorce and they feel that their lives have become disoriented as a result.

Some see very few people anyway, they are tied up with work that prevents them from meeting other people with similar interests and outlooks; but there are also others who by their very make- up are quite happy at being on their own and their work brings them into contact with other people.

We are all unique but complex human beings. Our inner needs vary as much as our faces do but I also believe that we were made to give support to others, often people who are very different from ourselves who are lonely.

One of the things that is important about the teaching of Jesus is that he reminds us we need to take great care how we judge other people, in fact we should never judge them at all, because the criterion by which we judge others brings us under judgement ourselves. Jesus himself made friends with all kinds of people in such a way that he was able to help many of them who were finding it difficult to sort out their lives

We all fail in some way or another to show friendship to lonely people, and we have to take great care in our prayers and in our time of reflection that we notice those people who are in need of support in their loneliness.

In showing friendship and encouragement we may well be helping them to fulfil their role in life or even, may be, find a sense of direction for the first time.

With all good wishes,

sincerely

David

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may letter

May letter.
Dear everyone.
Since house property repairs , much in my outhouse had to be cleaned out and thrown away. Nearly a skip load of things no longer needed had go. Many items had been kept over 20 years,things that might be useful ‘sometime’.
I decided to however keep some unused packets of seeds. Although some are several years old., I discovered that the seeds were double packed in foil so that many could still be planted.
We all need to de-clutter. Sometimes simply so that we can find things we are looking for, but we also need to de-clutter our minds too. All of us carry ‘baggage’-attitudes, prejudices, dislikes and many other things that hinder us from being the kind of people that we really ought to be; but there are some qualities and attitudes that we ought to keep. They are like seeds that have been packed away tightly and securely for a very long time, and they still need the opportunity to develop, grow and be fruitful
The ‘seeds’ of our personalities have to be cultivated, and even if some of these seeds or traits of personality have not been brought into play for a long time, they can still occupy a very significant place in our lives.
We need to explore, and at whatever age we are, set seeds for the future.
They may not all be for our benefit, perhaps for future generations, but we must always be purposeful in our living and at the very least sowing seeds for situations beyond our own. This includes caring for the natural world as well as what we might describe as the spiritual and the social needs of others.
We should all concentrate on planting seeds-that others as well as ourselves may benefit from and enjoy abundant life. We should plant seeds that give encouragement to others and help them to grow and mature.
May we all prosper by sowing seeds of hope-through our giving, through generousity of spirit, and through our prayers.
Sincerely. David.

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April letter.

April letter.
Dear Everyone.
Recently I met two neighbours who were just going out for a walk round the local park. It was a nice sunny day, and good to see the arrival of spring. They were looking forward to their stroll.
Many people are not able to get out, mix with other people and enjoy stimulating things outside. However whether we are ‘home’bound or not, we are all on a journey which is shaped by our experiences along the way of life. Even if we are not strong physically we are mentally involved in travelling along on that journey but they are not always easy.
The Jews under Moses spent 40 years journeying in the wilderness going through hard and unsettled times in order to find a better place to live. We are reminded of this in the hymn ‘guide me O thou great Jehovah, pilgrims through this barren land.’
At present as a country we are going through a journey of political uncertainty too. Our prayer is that as a country and as individuals we will work for things that will be for the good of all- world wide as well as locally as well as in our own experiences of life.
The big question however that faces us, both as a nation and as individuals is this. Are we able to journey through life with faith, hope and love in our hearts? Whilst there are not simple answers to life’s questions, it is a tremendous help if we can believe that underneath all life’s difficulties there is a faith by which we can live. St Paul saw the importance of this and said that ‘there are three things that last for ever-faith hope and love, and the greatest of these is love’, and love is at the centre of the first commandment which is the greatest of them all-to love God and our neighbours as ourselves.
May all ‘barren’ areas of our lives and in society be blessed during this period of Lent by new insights that will help us all on our journey.
With all good wishes for a VERY HAPPY EASTER.,
Sincerely, David.

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