As a new academic year begins for schools, colleges and universities, as the days shorten and the leaves of trees begin to change colour, September is full of new beginnings as well as endings. It is a time of paradox, and I am deeply aware of that as we enter this month with a sense of the new season in so many different ways, yet wondering what lies ahead as we continue to emerge from a viral pandemic.
This week, and in the days ahead there is much in my diary which is about wonderfully celebrating with different worshipping communities, and I am aware that for many there is a sense of delight and joy, not least as people meet and gather once again. Yet many of my conversations with people across the diocese and beyond, also reveal the pain, whether it be an ever deeper awareness of loss or vulnerability, or pain rooted in particular aspects of personal or corporate life.
Towards the end of August, I was looking out at the sea one night, enjoying its dark beauty, and at peace as I listened to the rhythm of the waves, yet I soon found my thoughts turning to those many people unseen and unknown to me out on the ocean in a place of danger and turbulence, risking their lives to flee a country. In that same week, as I enjoyed the excitement and inspiration of so much of the news about the Paralympics, I could barely bring myself to listen to the news about the unfolding events in Afghanistan.
Such joy and pain are always present at the same time, and the one must never deny the existence of the other. Every day, unspeakable atrocities are taking place across our world affecting individuals and communities, many of whom we will never even hear about. This is true too of events of celebration and delight, and we are to be attentive to both.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have entered into his death and resurrection which dwell together, and as this new academic year begins and we live the present, participating in the shaping of the future, may we listen and notice more deeply, individually and together, as we seek to walk the way of Christ. May we grow ever more attentive to both the beauty and the brokenness of our own lives, the lives of neighbours near and far, and within creation, as we enter Creationtide. And in all of this may we continually be receivers and bearers of Christ’s hope because it is this hope which enables us to hold together the tears and the laughter, as we stay rooted in Christ, in whom all things hold together.
At the start of this ‘new year,’ I give thanks for our shared life together in this Diocese, and hope is writ deep in my heart and mind.
With my thanks and prayers as ever