A message from Rita Goddard, Lay Minister

Posted by Admin on Friday, 20th August 2010, 03:58

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” So wrote the English Romantic poet John Keats in 1819. It is the first line of a poem he entitled “To Autumn.” His inspiration for the poem came following a walk he took alongside the River Itchen near Winchester on the 19th September, 1819. Despite the distractions of his own financial problems together with those of his brother, he made time to write of the autumnal scene which had made such an impression upon him.  Indeed it is reported that he wrote to a friend two days later commenting “How beautiful the season is now – How fine the air.”

Whilst I am not a poet, it was thinking of the season of autumn which brought these words of Keats into my mind. Cowes Week has come and gone.  Children will shortly be going back to school or setting out on that adventure for the first time. Activities which have been put aside for the month of August will soon be taken up again. Autumn can be a season of new beginnings. It can also be a season of returning to the familiar.

Let me pose a question. What do you think of when you think of autumn?  Seasons can have such evocative memories. I can almost smell the mixture of fruit, vegetables and flowers that I associate with Harvest festival displays found in many churches (and other places) during September and October.  Not to mention the Harvest loaf! Why is it, I wonder, that I always associate Michaelmas daisies with Harvest Festival? Were they so prominent in some of the displays I saw when I was much younger?

I’m glad that John Keats penned those words I started with. They sum up autumn so adequately for me. I’m not sure what he had in mind when he wrote of “mellow fruitfulness” but as I’ve considered those words over the last few days I’ve linked them with some words in the Bible. Paul the Apostle wrote to the church at Galatia of the fruit of the (Holy) Spirit. A modern version of the Bible called “The Message” puts it like this: “What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard.” Paul also speaks of a harvest when he says, “What a person plants, (the values we live by – RG) he will harvest.”

As we see the harvest being gathered in throughout the country; as we have opportunity perhaps to appreciate and even contribute to a harvest display we have the opportunity to reflect on the sort of harvest our lives are producing.  Will it be a good one this year? Will it be one of ‘mellow fruitfulness’?

Why not have a look at the list of church Services in this publication and join us at our Harvest Service this year. For some it might be a season of returning to the familiar.

However, as I said earlier, autumn can be a season of new beginnings. On the 18th September in Portsmouth Cathedral, the Rt Rev’d Christopher Foster will be installed as the Bishop of Portsmouth. On the following day there will also be a Service of welcome in Newport Minster. We look forward to welcoming Bishop Christopher. We trust that under his spiritual leadership our diocese will also be one of ‘mellow fruitfulness’ in the kingdom of God.

Happy harvesting!

Rita Goddard

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