Drawing Nearer to Gods Heart
Maggie and I have only been at the Bield for a few happy hours this summer, so I will reflect on a few of the places we have visited, which included the gardens at Arundel Castle - and the Bield.
‘Nearer to God’s heart in a garden…’
And churches, where we also hope to draw nearer to God’s heart…Iona Abbey (pictured above), St Nicholas’ Chapel in Sussex, which dates from the 11th century, and still used for regular worship; and Leominster Priory, where we came across a ‘Ducking Stool’ (pictured below). This was a medieval punishment for ‘scolds and gossips’ and ‘unscrupulous merchants’, who were paraded round the town and then ducked in the river. At the end of the accompanying explanation on the wall, was this prayer:
"Lord God, we are part of history, inheriting its glories as well as its disgrace. We ask pardon for the pain and anguish that has been, and is still inflicted by the powerful on the weak, particularly by men on women. You. Lord, value all people equally and make no distinctions between us, loving us all through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen"
We also sat quietly in the ruins of the bombed out Coventry Cathedral, and listened to the choir in its stunning replacement. These buildings are a powerful symbol of forgiveness and reconciliation to everyone who visits. And outside is this splendid welcome;
"We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, questioning, well heeled or down at heel.
We especially welcome babies and excited toddlers.
You’re welcome here if you’re just browsing, just woken up, or just out of prison. We don’t care if you are more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury, or haven’t been in church since Christmas ten years ago.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 65, but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters.
We welcome those who are in recovery, or still addicted.
We welcome you if you are having problems, or down in the dumps, or don’t like organised religion (We’re not that keen on it either!)
We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because granny is visiting and wanted to look around.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throats as kids, or got lost on the ring road and ended up here by mistake.
We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters, and especially you.
PLEASE COME IN!"
And lastly, outside a Methodist hall we saw this beautiful summary of all we’re about;
"Love your neighbour, who doesn’t look like you, think like you, speak like you, love like you, pray like you, vote like you. Love your neighbour, no exceptions."