From the Rector

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Vittoria's most recent letter is here. For previous letters, see our letters archive - you can also follow Vittoria on Facebook at Rector Ballater Aboyne.     

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Rector's Letter, April and May 2021

Dear Friends


Writing this in the second week of March, the light of spring is finally appearing. The snowdrops and crocuses are out in my garden, and the first shoots are visible on the raspberry canes. It seems to have been a long winter this year. Snow, lockdown, the effects of Brexit, the continuing saga of politics and so on. All of these have dragged my mood downwards a little, and I have felt myself discouraged at times.


I have spent some time recently slowing down. Watching the birds on my feeders. Blue-tits, great tits, coal tits, chaffinch, sparrows, bramblings, a solitary red poll. A whole flock of long tailed tits visited when the snow was thickest on the ground. The greenfinch look like miniature parrots in their bright spring plumage. And the robin is most insistent at letting me know when the feeders are empty. I've had a visiting weasel, who has been doing his – or her- best to reduce the mouse population for me. The pigeons are strutting around on the ground, the blackbird – beak bright orange – is turning over the leaves, and a collared dove occasionally visits. All of this is at the feeders outside my kitchen window. 


At the start of this Lent, I sat back and had a look around me. I realised I had caught the problem of so many of us – a guilt in not being busy, in not occupying ourselves usefully. There are always things which can be done, things waiting on my desk to be sorted, or answered, or arranged. The expectation to be always doing comes from both inside and without. Part of it is a desire to prove myself. When other parts of my job are reduced because of Covid restrictions, shielding and so on, it is easy to feel I am not doing as much as I should be doing. 


But this second lockdown has also brought more pressure from outside. With the increased use of zoom and other tools, more meetings are being held online. The amount of notice given is often much less than for a physical meeting, it tends to be harder to say no – I'm not going out anywhere, am I? - and we often fail to appreciate that an online meeting can take far more energy than a meeting in person. The digital world can make life better – but it can also place more pressure on people to get things done, and get them done now. Sometimes we fail to realise in the present moment that we are trying to work, from home, in a different way to usual, during a pandemic, with restrictions on the way we live our lives, and coping with whatever personal matters might also be on top. For most part, we are doing a good job.



These last few weeks I have stepped back a little, for the sake of my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. It has taken a small change in my routine, and my world has become wider, more thoughtful, a little steadier. All I have done is decided to take my time drinking my cup of tea instead of taking it back to my desk. To sit at the kitchen table, or to stroll around the garden, mug in hand. It is getting warm enough that I will soon be able to sit, wrapped up, in the summer house. I stop for my tea break and watch the birds. I go for a walk. I admire the crocuses, the new buds on the trees. I am spending time in the presence of God, not doing but just being. I am enjoying the small delights of life. There is a phrase which I came across a few years ago – God created us to be human beings, not human doings. How are you being at the moment? Have you paused enough to take stock? Have you asked the question – not what does God want me to do – but who does God want me to be? As I step back, as I look and evaluate and assess my life, what and who it contains, what God is calling me to do, the most important question I can ask is 'who does God want me to be?'. 


As we approach Holy Week and Easter, this is a question that should be at the core of our ponderings. Not so much what we should do in response to the love, the sacrifice, the death and the resurrection of Christ. Instead more who we should be in response to his love and life. We should be children of God; we should be passionate advocates of truth, and mercy. We should be people who respond to injustice with action; people who work for an equitable world. We should be people who are not afraid to stand up and speak of miracles, to dream dreams, to see visions. We should be people of love, who have enough love to give for the whole of our worlds. This is part of what and who God is calling us to be; is calling me to be. Who is God calling you to be?


With every blessing,

Vittoria