As part of my work as a Chaplain, I write a monthly column for our internal newsletter, distributed to our residents. I thought I would include in here and hope you enjoy it.
As the seasons change, we welcome Spring in all her beauty, with the promise of Summer days to come. And you can hardly have failed to notice from the weather that Spring truly has sprung - sprung a leak that is, as we find ourselves in the middle of the wettest drought that anyone can remember! Still, as they say, the gardens need it and the ducks will love it, a point which I will agree only up to a point. Gardens may need the rain but just as it, “falleth on the just and on the unjust”, it rains both on weed and flower in my garden, with the down side that the weather is too poor for me to get out and do something about the burgeoning crop of nettles which is threatening to take over the bottom of the vegetable plot.
But with these unwelcome arrivals come some very welcome new additions to our small collection of animals. First to arrive was a new litter of rabbits; we had thought that the two parents were both boys, when we put them together back in the Autumn and remarked on how well they seemed to be getting along. So we had a bit of a surprise last Monday when we open the hutch to find a nest of tiny wriggling sausages surrounded by rabbit fur. Mother and babies are doing well, but Dad is a bit put out that he has been put into a single hutch away from his family, and has become very clingy. (We thought he might appreciate the peace!)
And, just in time for the rain, come two splendid baby ducks, Henrietta and Gertrude. They have been quacking loudly at....well, most things in their new home. Their pen, their sleeping box, their neighbours the hens, their new owners; all have been found wanting since the ducks arrived last Tuesday. They are taking a bit of time to settle down. Are they unhappy? Well, not all of the time. During a particularly heavy shower of rain I found them strutting about their pen, heads in the air and quacking fit to burst. But I swear they were smiling at me as they made the most of this “weather for ducks” and, as they say a mother knows her baby's cries, these were very different quacks to those I hear at bedtime each night, when I am reminded of the new boy's dormitory at the boarding school at which I taught. A bit of TLC usually works, but I think it goes to show that loneliness is a fairly universal emotion.
We know, from the Bible that there were episodes in Jesus' life when he felt particularly lonely, although I suspect that throughout his life he always knew that he was “in” the human race rather than “of” the human race. We know of his desperate loneliness, as he approaches the end of his Earthly ministry, when he goes to pray in the garden at Gethsemane. Having asked the Apostles to stay awake with him, he returns to find them asleep. A little later, he will stand in front of the crowd and find himself without a friend, condemned to be crucified by the same people who welcomed him with loud “Hosannas” only a few days before. Then, on the cross, he cries out to God, his father, as he believes himself truly forsaken.
I saw a chaplain on TV the other evening, who talked about London as the loneliest place in the world. For my own part, I know that it is possible to feel alone and unloved in much smaller communities. But I also know that my faith in Christ and my daily relationship with him means that I am never truly alone. There is always someone there for me and his love is constant. It was summed up in the words of a poem I came across the other day:
When loneliness is all around, know that I am here.
If sorrow seems to fill your heart, know I'll wipe your tear.
When burdens are too much to bear, I'll carry them away.
If times are hard and you feel lost, I'll help you find the way.
When darkness seems to cloud your dreams, I'll hold you through the night.
For I, THE LORD, am by your side, to darkness, I am light.
May we all know that comfort.