From the Rector

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.     


Rector's Letter, October - November 2020

Dear All,

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

I am writing this on a damp September day. One of those early autumn days when the whole world seems to drip, and as you walk along it feels as though a damp flannel is being wrapped around you. I have abandoned the task of digging up the potatoes for the day (far too soggy for that) and retreated inside to write this letter.

This time of year always feels bittersweet. I love autumn – the colours, the crisp mornings, the crunch of leaves and scents. It's a time of promise, of fruitfulness, of things coming to fruition and other things ending. It's time for a new term at school or university – and yet we are approaching the end of the calendar year. A time for thanksgiving. For harvest. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, harvest will not be able to be celebrated in the usual way this year. No 'We plough the fields and scatter' sung lustily, or bring and share harvest lunches. In some ways I am quite glad. I don't object to either the hymn or the idea of lunch. I'm all in favour of both. I hope, however, that if we cannot meet in the same way to give thanks, it perhaps will bring to mind what we are actually thankful for. Instead of losing ourselves in tradition, it gives us time to pause, to examine, to think, to highlight to God what we are thankful for. 

Earlier in the year we were all thankful for the NHS – yet the government in Westminster seems to have forgotten that when it comes to pay rises and playing the blame game. We were thankful for the small local business which stepped up to the mark, provided home delivery, and helped to make sure our most vulnerable did not suffer. Yet many have gone back to their old routine of shopping in the supermarket instead of continuing to support the smaller firms. Thankfulness in times of need has been forgotten in pursuit of money and convenience. Saying thank you is good. Demonstrating that thankfulness in a visible way, through support, through buying things, through promoting whatever it is, is even better.

So what are you thankful for? I have realised over these strange times what odd things I am thankful for – apart from the obvious! I am grateful for the knitting yarn – not only for the dreams of what I could make with it, but also for the rainbow of colours I see. More, I am thankful that I have been able to acquire the gifts and skills necessary to use it. When I knit or crochet this is the harvest of so many peoples time and energy – all those people who have helped me learn the gifts and skills necessary.  How do I demonstrate my thanks for this harvest? Apart from by making items, I share my skills, I teach, I pass things on.

I am thankful for my sense of smell. Scent is incredibly important to me. Freesias, roses and sweet peas are some of my favourite flowers because of the scent. Marcus kindly brought me a bunch of sweet peas at the beginning of September, and I realised it was the scent which was so important to me. This was part of his harvest, his time spent. If I think a little further, I am thankful not just for the sweet peas, but for the thoughtfulness and care that represents.  It makes me thankful for the church communities to which I belong. How do I demonstrate my thanks to you all? By continuing to serve, to appreciate, to love you all. I don't say it often enough, but I am profoundly grateful to you all for your love and support.

I am thankful for the fact that my mint has gone completely out of control in my garden, as it's providing a source of late pollen to the honey bees (although I wasn't at all thankful for the bee that stung me a week or so ago). I look forward to the cold dry days of winter when I will be clearing the old mint stems from that corner of the garden. And I will express my thanks to the bees by making sure there are plants in my gardens to feed them over the coming year.

Wrapped up in all of this for me is thanksgiving for my faith, and for my God. My faith is one of those things which drives my love for nature and the environment. My faith is integral to my crafting, to the product of my hands. My faith is integral to love of my people. And my faith stems from a loving, merciful, gracious God. I give thanks for all those people who have instilled this faith in me. But most of all I give thanks to God.

This is the time of harvest, of thanksgiving. What harvest are you celebrating? How are you giving thanks?

With my thanks and blessing,