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October 2016

Dear Friends,

I can tell summer is over because I have put my watch back on my wrist.

For twenty blissful days in August my left arm was bare and I only had to know the time for at most four events throughout the whole holiday. Time plays havoc with our peacefulness working its pressure on our minds and bodies bringing unwanted and often unnoticed stress. The background tracking of time in my mind interferes with my search for silence and peacefulness. Sara Maitland in her book “A Book of Silence: a journey in search of the powers and pleasures of silence”1 describes how she goes to many different places to find silence, the loneliness of a Scottish cottage, where she lived as a solitary for a whole year, the peculiar silence of the desert and in the end she discovers that true silence comes finally from within.

The simple absence of noise is not enough.

I do not especially like William Henry Davies poem “Leisure” because the way it scans and rhymes somehow jars with me but its famous line

A poor life this, if full of care
We have no time to stop and stare

does have something to say about the way we miss so much because of the business of our minds. Sitting in a remote corner of Snettisham nature reserve one afternoon with Frances companionably painting alongside, the dogs sleeping under the shade of the bench, still and slow and quiet, I heard the small bird on the ground rustling in the leaves before I saw it, heard the bee exploring the thistle flowers and I soaked up the beauty and peace of that time. I could sit there as long as I wanted, there was no need to go or to move or to be anything other than man sitting on seat.

W B Yeats puts it differently –

His eyes fixed upon nothing
A hand under his head
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

From “A long legged fly”

These times are very precious so I want to say thank you to those who make my holidays possible, Janet Mackenzie and Austen Smith for taking the Sunday services, Paul Ingram for taking the midweek services, and all of you who keep St. Margaret’s flourishing throughout the summer months swapping and chaning duties so that we may all be rested and refreshed.

With blessings,


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