Father Philip Writes...
The Dedication Festival should always be a great event, for it is the celebration of the dedication or consecration of our first church building in late Saxon or early mediaeval days. The bishop would have read the sentence of consecration and anointed the stone altar with the oil of Chrism (5 crosses for the 5 wounds of Christ).
2. It is a place where people find God in peace and quiet. Clive Strickland, in a book entitled, “The Church in the City” writes these words:
The church building may well be the place where a person meets God for the first time. Some people enter for prayer, to light a candle or to escape the pressures of the day, for churches – and especially St Mary’s - have an atmosphere of sacredness.
3. Our churches are repositories of art. Simon Jenkins in “England’s Thousand Best Churches” says: ‘It is as if every ‘art worker’ had come to leave his mark in honour of the master.’The importance of this is summed up in the following prayer from the Divine Office:
‘Pour forth your spirit, Lord, on all artists, musicians and craftsmen. May their work bring variety, joy and inspiration to our lives.’
So as we thank God for St Mary’s we are reminded that, just as the building is consecrated, so are we, through our Baptism. We all need to know Christ better and make him better known.
Perhaps you have never been baptised or were baptised as a baby and not Confirmed. Perhaps you would like to know more about the Christian faith or would love to make a commitment but don’t quite know how to start. Perhaps you would like a ‘refresher’ to help revitalise your faith.
I am letting Pam Rhodes have the last word as I quote from her book “Living and Loved Favourite Churches”:
‘If the Church is God’s home, then Britain has far more than its fair share of exquisitely beautiful houses of worship which are built to his glory. But God doesn’t confine himself to church buildings. His real home is the human heart.’
This month, with her permission, the words in most of this article are those of Marie. We became aware of Marie’s story very recently, when we received a message from the General Secretary of the Guild of All Souls, whom she had contacted about her exhibition in Kesgrave. This portrayed an eight-year-long journey of coming to terms with a child loss caused by a miscarriage. On looking at Marie’s website, http://www.grievingmother.co.uk under the tab ‘Blog’ we found the following:
‘When I found out about the loss of my second child, I was devastated but to my own surprise also terribly relieved. Three years of waiting for this embryo transfer, having treatments, gynaecological procedures, being on hormonal medications for months, worrying every single day, hour, minute whether this child was going to live. At least something was resolved. I knew the score. I felt free for the first time in many years. I fulfilled my promise, I gave everything to this child. Everything for this special baby who I was united with for several precious weeks.
The grief came later, it descended like a hailstorm. I was lost, what I was to do with this life? There was a big black hole inside me where the child had been. The effect of hormonal medicine was lethal. I was fuelled by anxiety and rage, running around the house cleaning. I had to use all my mental strength just not to explode and not to hurt my lovely family. They so wanted to help me but I had to be alone with these explosive emotions. So I took a day off and went for a drive. I wanted to keep driving away from home, away from this painful experience. I wanted to drive and never come back. And then it dawned on me… I had nowhere to go. The only place for me was with my loving family, in the centre of all pain. There was no escape for me.
I found a poem on the little church table: ‘Walking with grief’ by the Guild of all Souls. I was so upset with myself that after years of therapy and my own artistic work I was still grieving. I thought I had done with all that. Not yet, there is more bitterness in my cup. A pain to be drunk. So I walked, I walked along the river that afternoon, I walked slowly and I walked with grief.
When I got home I painted. I had to create this big black hole that was inside me. I had to see it for what it was. I painted with my hands the huge black space. I wanted to curl up in the middle of it. But the paper was wet, so I painted instead -turquoise, lime green- slapping the paint on with my palms. I asked myself: what lives in the hole? Red eyes appeared, that was my fear. Then a nose and lips and the lips were moving. Were they talking, screaming? No, they were singing! So I began to sing while a face appeared. An old, wise shaman and we sang together the song of life and death filled with love and sadness.’
Having now had the privilege of meeting Marie, I have invited her to stage her exhibition ‘The Grieving Mother’ at St Mary’s Mendlesham from Tuesday 21st November – Friday 1st December (see 'Whats on' page for more information). Inspired by her story and aware of that of many others in Mendlesham and beyond, we are also holding a ‘Service of Light’ on Saturday 25th November at 2.30pm.
It is for any parents or relatives whose children have died, before birth or at any time after, of any cause and however long ago. Candles will be given and lit, to be carried and placed on the altar of the Lady chapel as a sign of prayer for these children.
It will be short, quiet and reflective, consist of readings, prayers and a little music and open to any who wish to come. It will finish quietly, to allow those who wish to stay or go in silence to do so. However, an opportunity will also be provided afterwards for any who would like to talk to a sympathetic listener.