Canon Pam writes ...
So here we are, half way through Lent, and I wonder how the
season has been for you so far. Perhaps like me you are using the "Count your blessings" programme provided by Christian
Aid. Maybe you are part of the Lent group, or enjoying soup and fellowship on Wednesdays, having taken in the morning Eucharist.
Are you doing them all? And if not, how did you decide what to prioritise? Perhaps you made prayerful decisions - more likely
they were practical ones, to fit in with the diary. Maybe you have ignored the lot, and found another way to keep a Holy Lent.
If so, and it's not too private, I'd love to know what it is.
I can still remember a
sermon I heard on the first Sunday in Lent in our Parish Church when I was probably 9 or 10. (Children stayed in church
in those days - Sunday School was in the afternoon). Anyway, we were numbingly cold that morning because the rudimentary heating
system, which rarely worked well, had packed up entirely. Imagine trying to turn pages in a tiny prayer book with your gloves
on! Luckily our preacher, the curate Harry Wild (more about him later) was a practical man. Looking at our frozen faces
he said; "I'm not going to keep you long - Just remember - Time is Lent." And of course it is just that;
one of God's gifts of which we are stewards, and the only one we all receive, rich or poor, old or young, in equal measure.
So how we spend it is important. Perhaps we should be thinking about what proportion of our time we spend on God, on others
and on ourselves, and whether we need to make any adjustments. If we find all three gloriously mixed up, we've probably
got it about right.
Harry Wild, our semi-retired Curate, had in earlier
years been chaplain of the Island of Tristan da Cunha. He had a fund of stories about that fascinating job, my favourite concerning
time he spent on furlough in London which happened to coincide with the Coronation of 1936. The morning after, Queen Mary
looked out of the Palace window and saw Harry picking up nails left behind by the workmen as they dismantled the viewing platforms.
She was intrigued and sent an Equerry to find out what he was doing. The answer was that Tristan was always desperately short
of resources that needed to be imported, and he had soon learned not to let anything go to waste. He hoped he hadn't broken
the law by helping himself. Months later, back home, he was watching the unloading of the supply ship. Addressed to him, and
the people of the Island, was a very large bag of nails from Queen Mary with her best wishes. The time Harry spent picking
up those nails was indeed time well spent!