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 Letter from the Vicarage June 2014

 

 

 

 

 

MY DEAR FRIENDS,

 

As they say, 'it's goodbye from him and goodbye from her'. What a final Benefice service it was!  Saying a goodbye is never easy and as for a final goodbye that's something else. When Lily and I were courting [sorry if that expression isn't cool any more] and even more so when we were first married saying goodbye as I went off to work was very hard. To be fair I was a sea-going Engineering Officer and trips were nine months before any leave was due so goodbyes were harder still with a rider of 'see you in nine months’ time'. 

The actual moving house bit we have got used to having moved ten times so far in our forty odd years of marriage but its saying 'Au revoir' to good friends, close friends, that never comes easy. But au revoir it is until we meet again from time to time.

The Marsh has been a wonderful place to live for so many reasons. The historic churches convey a deep spiritual backdrop to a unique landscape and a captivating wildlife. The ancient history of the Marsh drainage, the origin of the Cinque Ports, the legacy of smuggling and so much more all add to the culture of the area and draw in the tourists. Levellers, Jurats, Owlers and Lookers have all been terms for us to learn as we arrived almost six years ago.

Despite the history and the culture it is always the people of the moment with whom life bonding ties are established. Not just the congregations of the eight churches with whom we have worked but the Air Cadet Corps, the Sea Cadets at T.S. Veteran, the Scouts, the schools, the W.I., the shops, the clubs and of course the pubs. People we see in passing and folk who visit now and again. Thank you all.

The gift you gave us at that last service on Low Sunday [that's the Sunday after Easter in case you have forgotten] of £1,800 was just astounding. Thank you so much for your generosity. With it we are talking about having a log cabin built at the end of our rather small garden – somewhere where I can retire to when I get a detention or perhaps have a late afternoon G & T together. If you do find yourself in the region of Littlehampton do call in. Our new [eleventh that is] address is, 14 York Road, Littlehampton, W. Sussex BN17 6EN.  As yet we have no telephone installed but we will make it known when BT get their act together.    

Just a couple of final comments. The church of God needs the time and talents of all of us. I am grateful to all who have taken the stage over my time here. For those who have 'retired' from secular work yet lead worship week in and week out. For those who have been on diocesan courses, honed their skills  and now lead worship, for those who have been ordained and especially to Nikki Mann as she completes her ordination training and is ordained in Lincoln Cathedral on Sunday 29 June. Do pray for her, her husband Matthew and sprogs JJ, Madi and Charlie.

Finally I feel I have 'left undone those things I ought to have done'. At least those things I wanted to achieve for which I apologise. I wanted to engage a wider dialogue on community grave-space here on the Marsh. I realise the Marsh has a high water table, I know that Shepway waves the issue aside and says it 'fulfils its legal obligation', but I believe it is unacceptable that an elderly  widow in Lydd or New Romney has to travel by bus to Hawkinge in order to attend to her husband’s grave.

And I really wanted to have a focal memorial garden perhaps in St Nix churchyard or at Dymchurch with a facility to bury infants and children. One of the privileges of being a priest is in having intimate and private conversations especially where emotional pain is involved. I am astounded at the number of older ladies I have spoken with who have told me of children they have lost or had taken away for whom they have never been allowed to grieve properly for. Watch the film 'Philomena' with Judy Dench and Steve Cougan and you will understand exactly what I mean.

So Adieu, Au revoir and Fare-ye-well. You will remain in our prayers and perhaps you will remember us occasionally in yours.  

With our love,   Jim & Lily

 

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