The View from the (vacant) Rectory - November 2019
A few months ago, I gave thanks, in the pages of this magazine, for the excellent education which I had been privileged to receive at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. Perhaps the outstanding feature of that education was the abiding influence of a charismatic English teacher, who inspired in me a love of literature, and especially of poetry. This has illuminated my life ever since (and has occasionally spilled over from the pulpit!).
One of the many poems I have enjoyed reading is "November", written by Thomas Hood (1799 - 1845).
This poem begins :
"No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day"
It then goes on for another 21 lines with a succession of "No's", ending with the exclamation "November!" All very clever, and very amusing, but I shall avoid the temptation to ease my task this month by simply quoting the entire poem, for this would give the impression that November is a completely negative month, with nothing going for it at all, and this is far from being the case.
True, November's weather can be depressing, though Indian summers during the month are not unknown. True, the month includes a number of occasions for serious reflection, like All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, and Remembrance Sunday. But November also includes the Kingdom Season, culminating in the feast of Christ the King, when we remember and give thanks for God's majesty and glory.
Above all, November gives us the opportunity to prepare ourselves properly for the great season of Advent, which always seems to rush past headlong as we approach Christmas. And this year, for us at St Guthlac's, we can look forward in the knowledge that the selection process for our new Rector continues apace, building up to the next round of interviews at the beginning of December.
We pray, once again, that God will continue to guide and inform this process, and the hearts and minds of all who participate in it, in whatever capacity, ensuring that the outcome will be a fitting one for His service and His glory.
So, despite Thomas Hood's clever poem, November is not really a negative month, but one filled with the promise of better things to come, in God's good time. Let us try to remember that, as the days shorten and the leaves fall from the trees - in the words of Julian of Norwich: "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."