May 2018

All the clichés about Spring ring true, don’t they? On the road from Prestwood to Great Missenden there is a patch of ground by the road in which, each year, grow the most marvellous display of fritillaries. I saw them this year for the first time today. Combined with the bluebells in the wood on the other side of the road they always mark for me this season of growth and regeneration. And yet, as I looked at them, I was on my way back from the bedside of a very long-standing member of our congregation for whom this is not a season of growth and regeneration, at least in any physical sense, and who is, I feel, close to the end of her journey through this world.

As I sat with her, her hand held mine. What I mean is she had raised it and then let it fall, and it fell on mine. How conscious of this she was I don’t know, but her hand fell over mine, and wrapped around it, and held it there. So I didn’t move. I could also write that we prayed together—but again, I don’t know. I prayed. I think, to the best of her ability, she prayed with me. But it was felt rather than seen.

So much about death and dying is uncertain to us, even though we are resurrection people. It is resurrection that we are celebrating in this Easter season. Sometimes we forget that resurrection is something that can only come after death and that, if we are true Christians, we do need our Good Friday before our Easter Sunday. And yet… and yet… we have big questions about death and dying that we struggle to face up to, and feelings and worries that we can struggle to enunciate clearly, even to ourselves.

That’s why initiatives such as GraveTalk can be so important. GraveTalk is a café space, organised by a local church, where people can talk about these big questions. The conversation is helped along by GraveTalk conversation cards – 52 questions covering 5 key areas. It is something I am (belatedly) looking into. You may know much more about it. It is worth investigating.
But there are other areas of life where the fear of ending can affect us. In church life there is always resistance to change, because church life tends to revolve around certainties. Changes imply endings, and endings are uncertain times. Endings can imply failure. Cherished projects and activities that have gone on for many years can seem emptied of meaning if they stop. But surely Christians should know better than anyone that unless a seed falls into the earth and dies it remains a single seed, but if it dies it brings forth much fruit? Unfortunately, we are all only human and our natural instincts make this difficult for us to grasp.

Remember, we are also called to live life and to live it abundantly—and to celebrate God’s great gift of life in us and around us. Winter is but a season, and we will see many such seasons in our own lives and the lives of those we love. Give thanks for the sun that thaws the frozen and the love that warms our world.

When I stood up to leave her bedside today I looked outside of her window, and there, laid out before me, was a vast green swathe of the Chilterns bursting in to life and song. Somehow, it seemed appropriate.

Holy Trinity, Prestwood is an Inclusive Church. We are part of the Church of England.
We are in the Oxford diocese and the Wendover Deanery.

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Holy Trinity, Prestwood is a registered charity, no. 1129233.

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