Rector’s Weekly Letter – 30th April 2020

Dear friends,

A close encounter with a wren through the glass of the Rectory bay window the other day made me realise how much my life has changed since lockdown began. As I gazed in delight at the tiny bird, noticing the intricate patterns on its wings and upright tail, the white stripe above its eye, its fine bill and delicate legs, I gave thanks for that moment — a moment which I probably wouldn’t have experienced in the busyness of ‘normal’ life.

If you had asked me two months ago about the birds which visit the grounds of St Mary’s, I would have spoken about the four pairs of magpies, the crows who nest in neighbouring trees and the greedy wood pigeons. I couldn’t have told you about the smaller birds because I hadn’t noticed them. Over the last few weeks, I have become aware of the robins, the sparrows, the finches and the wrens and more attuned to their calls. The lack of cars and school children has probably made them bolder and their songs easier for me to hear but also, stripped of the many meetings, events and activities which filled my days, I now have had the time and freedom to watch and listen to them as I used to do as a child on my grandmother’s farm.

In the same way, with more space in my day to reflect and pray, I feel that I’m becoming more attuned to God’s whispering and aware of little movements of God’s spirit within me and around me, noticing small blessings that I would have missed before. It is not surprising that I have been drawn this week to the contemplative writings of Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk who wrote of the rush and pressure of modern life as ‘a form of violence, which destroys our inner capacity for peace and also destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful’. I have certainly learnt during the last few weeks to value living at a slower pace with fewer distractions so that I can focus on what is life-giving for me in order to better share that life with others.

I’m sure that you also have had all sorts of unexpected experiences and realizations. I wonder what we will take with us from this as we look forward to life after lockdown? Can I encourage you to write down your thoughts so that the valuable lessons we are learning in this challenging time are not lost.

With love to you all,

Exploring Prayer
We will have an initial meeting on Zoom on Friday 8th May at 7 p.m. to reflect on the second of Archbishop Justin Welby’s videos, ‘Learning to Lament’ which can be found on Please get in touch with Nerys on rector @ if you’d like to give it a go. This group is not limited to members of St Mary’s.