A message from the Rev’d Roger Whatley, Service Chaplain

Posted by Admin on Saturday, 22nd February 2014, 01:36

Most of us can find the first three months of the year slightly depressing. The colour and excitement of Christmas is behind us and before the coming of spring we could be faced with at least three months of grim weather. The poet John Clare however, in his book The Shepherd’s Calendar, found the months of February and March to be a time of looking forward to spring and a time of inspiration. He did however spend periods of time in various asylums in the Northampton area!
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In his poem February he writes:
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A calm of pleasure listens round
And almost whispers winter bye
While fancy dreams of summer sounds
And quiet rapture fills the eye
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This year March will be when the season of Lent begins. Christians use this period of time to prepare for the season of Easter, which for many marks the season of spring. Having just spent the last week in January accompanying my wife whilst she photographed various birds and animals on the Island I know the signs of spring are all around us. We were surprised to find a squirrel looking for food down a track in the West Wight and although we returned to the same point several times we didn’t see it again. He must have eaten, seen the rain and gone back to sleep. The ducks show every sign that spring isn’t far away and are preparing for a future generation of birds. But for all the spring signs, the colour in the countryside has that pastel quality that is found only in winter. But as Clare said in his poem we can still dream about the better weather to come and if we are gardeners plan for the coming months.
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Lent is associated with giving up something that we like or we count as an indulgence. I know people who give up chocolate, wine, cake and even meat in the Lent period. Many Christians use this time to follow a particular study or take extra time out to meditate or pray and prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. To all of our readers, even if you do not attend one of our local churches, can I urge you to use the Lent period to think about the rest of the year, to plan for the coming spring and summer and think about your life and all the possibilities that are available to you. It may help to put the winter months behind you and give you hope and anticipation for what might happen in the future.
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For his March poem Clare wrote:
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While from the hill side freshing forest drops
As one might walk upon their thickening tops
And buds wi young hopes promise seemly swells
Where woodman that in wild seclusion dwells.
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I hope that wherever you find yourself in life’s journey, that your plans will bud and bear fruit as the grey days fade from our memories. You will find yourselves able to celebrate the rebirth of nature, witness the emergence of the first flowers, the return of birds, insects and animals to our gardens and parks. Enjoy the warmth of the sun again and be invigorated by the energy it brings to us all.

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Roger Whatley, Service Chaplain.

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