Dear parishioners and friends,

I have just come off the telephone from an hour and a half rural deanery meeting. It was billed as a ‘zoom meeting’ but I could not persuade my computer to behave itself and all I saw on the screen were fuzzy faces accompanied by distorted voices so had to ‘phone in’ to the meeting instead. Have you ever tried having a telephone call with nine different voices on the end of the line? It certainly was an experience and not one I would care to repeat! Our modern technology is a wonderful thing (when it works) and has enabled us to send out this weekly offering by email to those who have email, by post to those who do not have email, and by hand delivery to others. Not too many years ago this would have had to be typed on a typewriter, with paragraphs cut out with scissors, glued to blank pages and fed page by page into a photocopier, then collated, folded and stapled. Today it is typed on a computer, sent to our photocopier; a button pressed and out the other end comes a folded and stapled booklet ready for use. Progress indeed!

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic we took the decision not to get into the realm of online worship, a deliberate choice on our part due to the simple fact that not everybody has access to the online world. It would have been a relatively simple operation to record and upload a weekly service but my concern with that was that many of our parishioners would be left with nothing and an alternative solution was required to meet our own local needs. This weekly ‘ramble’ from the rector, a service to use at home, and a reflection from me or others has meant that all of us together know we are not forgotten and that our journey through the pandemic is a journey we are all taking together. Some parishioners pray this service alone in their own homes, others are using it on the telephone with friends and the tech savvy are using it as a basis for their own online worship. There is no one right way of doing things and together we must do what simply works for us.

Our struggles of course not only relate to physical well-being but our mental wellbeing also. Continue to take exercise, perform personal goals, try something new, tackle the tasks you normally avoid (personally I have still not managed to achieve that – the ironing still piles up!) and talk to friends on the phone or from a distance if you are out walking. All of us are in this together and our continued togetherness and support lessens the negative impact and hold this virus has over us.

Last week I reflected on some of the changes we will notice when we gradually return to using the buildings in mid-July. We will receive official guidelines in a few weeks time but in the meantime there is no point in us worrying unduly until we receive clear directions from the HSE. Those of us who are involved with planning services and events just have to take each day as it comes because to do otherwise would frustrate us all. We simply do not know what is around the corner and all we can do is to hope and pray that with continued patience and fortitude, all things will happen, maybe not as we originally planned, but happen in the fullness of time nonetheless.

For those of you with an interest in the animal kingdom and following on from last week’s letter, I am pleased to report that the residents of the burrow under the compost heap are well, and continue their playful destruction of the rectory garden! This morning’s deposits on the grass included a shoe and a takeaway container with the remnants of someone’s sweet and sour Chinese takeaway! The remainder of the daffodils have been trampled to earth, the rosemary and lavender bushes devoured and the polyanthus plants well and truly mangled. The two fox cubs together with mother and father send you their greetings!

Please continue to remember one another and indeed me in your prayers. I continue to treasure your messages of kindness and support to me in these difficult days. Your emails, letters and telephone calls are so greatly appreciated and I thank you for them. Do remember to contact me if you need anything or even if you just want to hear a different voice at the end of a telephone line. Valerie, Shirley and Liz are also at the end of the telephone if you would like to talk to them too. Please continue to take care of yourselves.

With love, prayers and my very best wishes,