One very lovely and special visit this morning was from the Vicar and a member of the Pastoral Group (who made me a cup of tea - thank you!). I feel very privileged to live in a community which still likes to think of itself as a village and which definitely possesses many village-like properties. Every summer the Brownies dance around the maypole on the Green (I do not lie...), the village grapevine ensures you are are kept well informed of any important news before it has actually happened, and in time of need both my GP and the Vicar will offer to visit at home.
A few hundred posts ago (or so it seems) I blogged about a lovely spiritual experience I had in church just before I went in for the surgery. I've always been pretty open about my religious/spiritual beliefs, though at times that openness has consisted of admitting I am not sure what at this particular moment I think or believe! My experiences of church have been mixed - but as someone once wisely said to me - if you do find the perfect church then whatever you do don't join it as you will only spoil it! And to be honest now does not feel like the "right" time to be unpacking my thoughts on these things - I wanted to share something much simpler...
Over the years I have "tried" hard with God. With church, the bible, prayer, meditation, all the things we traditionally do to feel his/her presence. I've longed for some huge overwhelming spiritual experience (or several) to remove all my doubts.
But as I have got older I've really come to value some of the simpler elements of Christianity which have been handed down over the past 2000 years. Baptism for example - the significance of a new, fresh start. And perhaps even more so - Communion. The Eucharist. Lord's Supper - so many different names for what is essentially a very simple meal of Bread and Wine. Having studied Theology I think I understand a little better than I used to what is meant by the sacramental value of these actions. In some way that I simply cannot describe Communion seems to me to be a place where I can stop trying. And having just admitted how much I have tried over the years that can only be a good - and restful - place to be.
I've a way to go yet in making sense of this. Occasionally when sharing bread and wine with friends I am suddenly reminded of the man Jesus - all those years ago - telling his friends not to forget him, and in particular to remember him at meal times such as this.
That seems to me to be quite a different experience to the other one I want to describe here - when thoughts and prayers and words and tears and longings have all run out and feeling quite alone and desperate there is this longing for contact with the supreme eternal being that I still like to call Father. At times like this, the ministration of communion, using the liturgy passed down over so many years, refined by our forefathers (and mothers...), from someone who has accepted the call on their life to serve others in this way seems to me to be very profound. I do not pretend to understand it for one moment but this morning I was just so grateful for half an hour spent sharing in this way, and as a result felt strengthened to face whatever the next chapter holds.
So- not really home alone after all - and just wait till you see what those Teddies have been up to! They say actions speak louder than words so perhaps a few photos will be sufficient :-)