Frensham Village Churches

Letter from the Vicarage - August 2016

BLESSINGS FROM THE VICARAGE

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

August for some can be a time for a holiday or at least a break from normal life, perhaps for travelling to new places or perhaps a space to nurture oneself in body, mind and spirit; perhaps for rest and relaxation, perhaps for nourishment or pampering, perhaps to sit quietly under a tree to simply read a book and sip a cocktail, or perhaps for active exhilaration and adventure!

Not being the most physically active or adventurous of people, I’ve got to be honest and say there is nothing I like better on holiday than to read some of the piles of books that I’ve bought but not yet got to due to business of general life. And it is rather nice to have a fresh gin and tonic in one’s hand too…!

And as, on a working daily basis, I avidly read all sorts of theological and ecclesiological books; when I am on holiday I like to read fiction for a real change from work. But it’s strange – just like when I watch films - I am not only frequently surprised at the amount of ‘Godly’ content from ‘ungodly’ books, but I am also fascinated by the degree that fiction can delve into the deepest questions of life (and indeed death) that we are often frightened or resistant to ask…and also that the authors try to answer those questions in the most creative and imaginative of ways. So for August I thought I might share with you some authors and books that have surprised me…

Mitch Albom, for example has written many books that are so imaginative about heaven and what might happen when we go to heaven (The first phone call from heaven; The five people you meet in heaven; For one more day); he has written about miracles of learning in life (The Time Keeper; the magic strings of Frankie Presto); he has also written two non-fiction books about relationships with people who are dying that are utterly inspiring (Tuesdays with Morrie; Have a little Faith). Cecilia Ahern wrote that ‘Mitch Albom sees the magical in the ordinary’…

Rachel Joyce has written two powerful books with such deep and clever writing which knocked me off my feet when I read them: ‘The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ and ‘The love letters of Queenie Hennessy’. Both capture the depth of human loyalty and emotion of friendship and love in the journey to, with and through death. Alfred Hickling wrote of the Harold Fry Pilgrimage that it was an ‘original, quietly courageous testament to the inhuman effort of being normal’…

Paulo Coelho has written many really imaginative, mystical books all of which have within them a fundamental question and then touch a nerve to stimulate thought and even action in life. I found them deeply enjoyable, easy to read and couldn’t put them down once I’d started them! Here’s just a surprising few that, apart from their title, don’t sound like fiction at all…

  • The Pilgrimage – Question: What are you searching for? A transforming journey
  • Alchemist – Question: How can you find your heart’s desire? An inspiration for anyone seeking their path in life
  • The Valkyries – Question: Do you believe in yourself? A modern day adventure exploring fear and self-doubt
  • The witch of Portobello – Question: can we dare to be true to ourselves? A story which transforms the way we think about love, joy and sacrifice.
  • Manual of the Warrior of light – Question: are you brave enough to live your dream? Strategies and inspiration to help you follow your path in a troubled world.

Lastly and perhaps most surprisingly, Dawn French – AKA the Vicar of Dibley… She has written two books that have very much surprised me. A Tiny bit marvellous and Oh dear Silvia. Both are about complicated but in a strange way quite normal families who go through a range of experiences which ultimately make them grow as people in relationship with others. A tiny bit marvellous is hilarious and made me laugh out loud when on a sunbed in France, which embarrassed my daughters no end; and Oh dear Silvia was both funny and painful covering love, death, grief, childhood, motherhood and parenthood. I was glad when it made me cry that I had my sunglasses on when I read it while resting by a pool in Spain…

Not Augustus Caesar (from whom the month of August was named) but St. Augustine once said, ‘there are graces to be found in every religion’… As I wish you in August ‘Bon Voyage’ or ‘happy holidays’ and pray for your safe return, while you are away may you find the many of the creative graces of God in reading at least one good, magical, mystical, imaginative, sidesplittingly hilarious, or transformational book … God after all, is in all and through all, wherever you may be…

With love and prayers,

Jane