November 2015

Dear friends.

poppiesWhere has this year gone? No sooner is Christmas over than it’s Easter, then Pentecost and the holiday season followed by Harvest and here we are in November. It’s been such a gentle slide into autumn this year that I’ve barely noticed the arrival of the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’.

It was quite recently that I woke up to the fact that it was here. The changing trees, red sunsets, changing light and foggy mornings began to seep into my consciousness. I suppose on the down side we have the potential of great autumn storms still to come, with wet nights and grey days as the days get shorter now the clocks have gone back.

But I love the berries on the trees and the emerging structure of trunks and branches as the leaves, now dry and spectacular, lay adorning our streets and I walk gingerly among them in the rain in case my boots don’t prevent me from slipping. The birds are leaving our shores for warmer climes as we get out our coats, gloves and hats hoping they won’t be needed for a bit longer. Autumn food is different too, isn’t it? Gone are the salads, to be replaced with heart warming and comforting food. All in all I love the autumn.

I’m glad that the seasons change in this country. We may complain about it most of the time, but in a way it reflects our lives’ ups and downs – the warm sunny days, the grey soulless days, the storms raging around us, the heat and the cold – it’s varied. Above all there’s the joy of remembering that spring always follows winter, bringing hope.

November is also associated with remembrance. It’s the month in which I particularly remember my dad who died so long ago. But I’ve never been too sure about why we remember Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament – what is that all about?

Remember, remember the fifth of November –
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gun powder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Maybe it’s to do with our love of the spectacular, the excitement of the pyrotechnics, the oohs and the aahhs, the bangs and the smoke. Being together with others and experiencing something different. Our cats however remain spectacularly unimpressed, plonking themselves firmly in a sfae place and refusing to move until it’s all stopped!

For me, as for many, it’s not the only or the most important remembering event in November. At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month we remember Armistice Day and the end of World War One. I have often wondered what it was like for those who remained at the front on the day that the world celebrated – singing, dancing, hailing the end of a terrible time. If Colonel Gowenlock’s account is to be believed, it wasn’t easy. It was a strange time for those still on the frontline. After times of strain, fear and preparation for what lay ahead each day – wondering if this day would be their last – the silence was eerie. The ending of it all was physical and psychological agony. Some collapsed, others were able to allow themselves a little hope. What was to come next? Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace. The past consumed their whole consciousness, the present did not exist and the future was inconceivable.

This was supposed to be the war to end all wars but in the early summer of 1945 people celebrated the end of yet another war, leaving another generation devastated. On this Remembrance Sunday we thought about what happened when that war ended.

We wear poppies in remembrance of those who died and because they are a symbol of hope. Poet J. Neven Pugh in a press release said that she hoped we would

“… remember the sacrifices made for our freedom, and even more so to remember that the men, women, and children all involved in and affected by this era were not just statistics: they were people just like we are, with the same hopes, dreams, and very imminent fears.”

Many died that we might experience freedom and enjoy the season around us in peace. Something to strive for in our still troubled world.

God bless


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