Father’s Day: We wish all Fathers, both temporal and spiritual a very happy Father’s Day this Sunday. Many Dads sacrifice so much for their families and many priests give of themselves to their people. We remember in gratitude the Fathers we have lost and pray for their peace.
I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed by the government’s announcement on Monday, more for personal reasons than anything else. I really do believe we should all be kept safe, there has been enough suffering this last year, so a few extra weeks of caution don’t seem that bad. Also, the thought of going from what seems like quite serious restrictions to absolutely nothing was giving me pause for thought. But the reason I am disappointed is because I have organised the diocesan clergy retreat which is supposed to take place at the end of July. The event now hangs in the balance because there is no guarantee that the restrictions will be lifted when the government say. There is no reason for them not to extend the easing date again and it is this uncertainty that is unsettling me. I thought we had left the days of uncertainty behind us, but we haven’t.
That said, everything seems to be ticking away nicely, the sun (until yesterday) has been shining, the warm weather has given most people a boost, the football is on, it seems like normal life has been resumed and most things are open. While I am not a big traveller, I do enjoy a holiday. Having a break has become a very important part of my life and I know from my conversations with parishioners that it is the same for many of you. A change of pace and a change of scene are so important for us. While not all holidays go well and they can be stressful, usually I find I come home invigorated from the new experiences I have had. The absence of a good holiday this year will be a blow to many and if you didn’t get one last year, even more so. But at the heart of all refreshment of body and soul is our spirituality, our relationship with God.
When I hear children playing, I am always delighted. Hearing their delight reminds me of the joy of childhood and the innocence that can make something mundane, like a tree trunk, a fascinating object of mystery. It is this childlike delight and wonder along with gratitude that is at the heart of spirituality. As adults we can lose both of these dispositions and we need to intentionally reclaim both on a daily basis. If we go on holiday or to a retreat without either of those dispositions, we will not have a great time, conversely being stuck in our house for a year can be very positive if each day we have a sense of gratitude to God for the many gifts we have and a sense of wonder at the world around us. I guess that is why gardening is so important to many people, the natural world can instill a sense of wonder. Underpinning both gratitude and wonder is prayer. Our daily conversations with God place us in a childlike position before our loving Father and from that place of humility, wonder and gratitude can abound. I am reminding myself of that as I navigate the logistics of our clergy retreat, remembering the words of Julian of Norwich I know deep down that in God’s hands ‘all is well, all manner of things shall be well’!