Rev’d Paul and Nicci Boddam-Whetham

Parish Letter, 20200607

Dear Friends,

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to walk the meandering path in our wild meadow to the east of the churchyard, then I would encourage you to pop up there and take time to observe the diversity of plants which are growing there, even in this very dry early summer. I was fortunate to meet Sally Craig who explained to me the difference in the various plantains: it is amazing what you can see when someone helps you to open your eyes! As we talked, the conversation brought back childhood memories of playing that game of knocking off the head of your opponent’s plantain… not possible now unless you can find two with metre-long stems! Seeing the patch of cowslips evoked another childhood memory of summer Sundays, taking family walks in somewhere we called “the cowslip field”, for obvious reasons, which was filled with these wonderful flowers.

I wonder what you have been able to see differently with “new eyes” as you have observed God’s wonderful world from a different perspective with quieter roads, cleaner streams but busier footpaths. It may have been some detail in nature, or perhaps an observation about changed relationships and social interaction between neighbours and within families. Some of these changes will have been for the better, but others will sadly have exacerbated already fragile connections, especially where it has been difficult for some to find their own space in a busy home.

Yet more change will happen over the coming weeks as children return to a different type of schooling… possibly rather unsettling for a number of young people, putting more stress into some families. The “vulnerable” will also be able to venture out for the first time in many weeks and may equally find that change is difficult to accommodate.

Perhaps you may be able to help someone you know to see their own situation with fresh eyes: to have the confidence to step out with the faith that they are not alone but God has a place and purpose for them to fulfil as part of his ministry to our church and neighbourhood, whether in the village or in the wider area in and around Witney.

Are you confident of the call God has on your life? I hope you can use this time when our world is still partially shut down, to seek confirmation that you are going in the direction God has prepared for you to follow. At the beginning of the lockdown, we tried to see this time and space as a gift from God: it has perhaps gone on rather longer that we might have thought, but then perhaps we still have things to learn about ourselves, our neighbourhood and our God.

As we celebrate Trinity Sunday this weekend, may the concept of God as three separate persons, yet united in one being, be a reminder of our unity as children of our heavenly Father, leading us to seek to be reconciled in our differences of race, gender, heritage and culture.

May the blessing of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you always.

With my prayers,

Your Rector, Paul