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February and March 2019

Dear All,

In the evenings I tend to work with my legs up on the sofa, quilt tucked over me and lap-top on my lap as I type away. This evening the log burner is going, with my new fan whizzing round on the top, circulating the heat around the room. Such a small thing, but it makes such a difference. Those who have been in the big room at the Rectory will know how cold it gets. The throws on the arms of chairs and sofas are not just there for decoration. But the combination of double-glazing, the new boiler and the fan on top of the log burner means that this room gets warm. 

It is amazing what difference a couple of small changes can make. The start of a New Year is when we often dream about the changes we want to make in our own lives. We make New Year's resolutions to eat better or exercise more, to lose weight, read books, make more time for whatever hobbies. They tend to be personal, focused on self not world. Sometimes our resolutions are things that affect our daily behaviour – we may resolve to not be so grumpy, or to be more patient. I wonder what resolutions you have made this year? And – the big question – have you managed to keep them so far? According to studies, it takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit.

I usually start the year with good intentions, which gradually fizzle out. This year I am trying to be less judgemental – of myself and others. I'm trying to be more patient – with myself. And I'm attempting to be gentler with myself. You see, all too often, resolutions are dependent on others, or on fitting yet something else into a busy life. This year I am choosing to refocus my time and energies, not on taking more on. I'm going to try to savour the moments I have, and to use them wisely; not to rush into doing, but to spend time being. 

In today's world we often define ourselves – and are defined – by what we do, not by who we are. God created us as human beings – not human doings. He does not care what your job is, or how many hours a week you work. Neither is he fussed about whether you have money or not. You cannot earn credit with God or impress God by doing more and more things. You can't buy God. His love cannot be earned, God is more accepting of us than we are of ourselves. So this year I resolve to try to remember to be. To walk with God, not rush around for him. To see myself as he sees me – to value myself for who I am. I have come to realise that when it says in the Bible 'love your neighbour as you love yourself' that you first do have to love yourself before you can fully love others. In order for us to love others fully, we must first love ourselves, and in order to know fully what love is, we must look to God.

This issue of the Tattler will take us into Lent. When we often resolve to give up sweets or chocolate, or some other luxury as a way of refocusing on God. What will you resolve to do? What small changes can you make, that will change your relationship with God? 

With every blessing,


Letters Archive

posted 11 May 2020, 14:50 by St. Thomas' Church Aboyne   [ updated 11 May 2020, 15:29 ]

Rector's Letter,  August - September  2019

Dear Friends,

The Rectory garden is not usually immaculately manicured, with

the exception of the grass. Peter comes and mows it for me, for

which I am profoundly grateful - it's one of those jobs which is now a

bit beyond me - thank you so much, Peter. However, even by my

standards, anyone visiting might notice that the border to the north of the house is even wilder than usual. This is not just due to laziness on my part. This year I have deliberately chosen to leave it to go wild, in an attempt to encourage the birds, bees and butterflies. 

I have to confess, it seems mostly full of ground elder and nettles at the moment. The more eagle-eyed visitor will also notice a small wooden blue heart on display. Birds and bees and butterflies... it seems as though bee borders and butterfly beds are being planted left, right, and centre. It has suddenly become fashionable to care about the environment. The topic is one which is being raised in the news, spoken about by those we meet. Being eco-friendly is the new 'in' thing. 

For once, I am in tune with the times - or they are in tune with me. I am sure that most of you will already have been recycling, composting and so on for years. I was brought up in a household where my mother grew most of the fruit and vegetables for our meals, where it was make do and mend, where clothing was recycled from child to child, and then into rags for use elsewhere. This was partly due to lack of money, but more due to environmental consciousness, and faith.

Being as eco-conscious as possible has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It is partlyhow I was brought up. I believe in caring from the environment - reduce, reuse, recycle etc. But it is more for me than just caring for the world in which we live. It is intrinsicallyconnected with how I live my life of faith. Part ofmy job as a Christian is to look after this world in which I live. In Genesis, God sets the task of humans as being stewardship of this world. That involves both the earthly environment, and also the people and animals that live in it. It involves living as ecologically sustainable life as possible, promoting care of the environment, seeking justice and equality for all. It also entails making sure that my actions do not - as far as I am able - damage the environment in which others live. It means trying to make sure that those I buy things from get a fair living wage; that I do not support oppressive regimes. This is easier said than done, and takes thought and effort. 

If I genuinely think this is part of living out my calling as a Christian, then I have to be prepared to put the time and effort in. There are things I cannot easily do - the only methods of heating in Ballater are either logs or coal fires, oil fired heating, or electric heating, none of which are particularly environmentally friendly. I need my car to be able to do my job, and it has to be one that I can easily drive. So I do drive a gas-guzzler. But there is lots I can do. When I travel outside the local area, I try to take the train, not drive or fly. As many of you are aware, I have a small vegetable patch, where I grow my own salad and vegetables for the summer months, although the size of this has reduced in recent years. When I shop, I try to buy locally. I aim to buy fairly traded goods where possible. I try to buy seasonal food. If I buy meat, it is usually bought from the butchers, not the supermarket. All of this takes time - it is a lot quicker to dash around the supermarket than to spend the time going from shop to shop. It is more expensive.

This year I have stepped up my efforts a little. So I am trying to reduce my plastic use, and trying generally to be more aware of why I am doing things. Being a Christian should involve our whole lives, but it takes thought, planning and patience. 

What are you doing as your contribution?

Every blessing,


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