February is sometimes viewed as a time of extended gloom and despondency as winter begins to strengthen its grip. In the natural world the familiar beauty of the landscape and the garden has departed and all seems stark. When we remind ourselves that the seasons follow a cycle and that each contains an element of the others we gain a better perspective. Winter is filled with the anticipation of Spring, and contains within it the spark needed for the new growth.
Marriages and family life can go through a similar pattern of the seasons, moving from times when life together is joyful, beautiful and rich, to those times when it is difficult, painful and disconnected. This is a natural, if unwelcome process, as it is through change that we all grow and develop. The Winter can be a time when we feel a little out-of-sorts in our relationships, or become conscious of the need to feed our marriages and family life.
Whilst many of us continue to detox our bodies from the excesses of food and wine, this is also an opportune moment to reflect more deeply upon our relationships. The fact that we need to cultivate, nourish and heal our relationships often comes as a surprise, even though we are not so passive over other aspects of our lives. Our diocesan web-pages have links to lots of organisations who understand the dynamic of marriage and family life, and all you need to do is click on the link.
Over Christmas I began Christopher Chapman’s 'Seeing in the Dark', which explores the part suffering plays within human growth and our experience of God. It is well worth dipping into, as Christopher draws on the themes of the seasons and tending of an allotment as analogies of our lives. It is a very practical reminder that good pastoral care makes all the difference in times of struggle and conflict, which is why cultivating the healthy soil of the parish community is so important.
We all have a role to play. Can you recall when you benefited from someone in the parish walking alongside you in times of difficulty, or were simply there to share in the moments of joy: marriage, new life and baptism?
Deacon Roger Carr-Jones