Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Past Revisited

Yesterday evening we went to the nearby village of Feckenham to ring.  I do not remember the last time we were there, possibly before my daughter was born.  When I say 'there', I mean in the church to ring. We often drive through Feckenham, and sometimes even stop - as there is a camping and outdoor shop.  This, however, was a different sort of visit. We weren't passing through, or indulging in retail therapy, we were joining in with members of the local community in an activity that is part of the structure of village life. Most of our small band decided to join in with the practise. Six people is a mini invasion, so I had phoned ahead, and checked they were ringing and happy to welcome us.

Compared to Redditch, Feckenham is quite posh, and even has an illuminated Christmas tree on the village green. The church is situated just off, with the access being past some very cute cottages.

Country darkness is totally different to town darkness.  We could see some lights on in the church, so we walked down the path, focusing on the lights ahead - unable to see our feet or each other.  We could have got our phones out, but we didn't want to compromise our journey.  So down the path we walked, breathing in the scent of the rain upon the trees. it smelt like pine, but it was a faint fragrance, barely discernible and bearing very little relationship to the overwhelming pong of disinfectant or any other cleaning products.

We approached  the porch gingerly, for neither of us could remember if there was some sort of gate or outer door.  Stepping into the porch, I reached forwards, guessing where the centre of the door would be, and felt somewhat relieved when I located the metal ring of the door handle.  I opened the door, and in the comparative brightness I saw a 2 man reception committee - one of whom I instantly recognised.  It was the first time I had rung on eight for many years, and the bells are a delight to ring.  The evening was very encouraging.  Until you try, you do not know what you remember!

As I reflected on the evening, I pondered on how...

  • The lights on the green gave hope, a promise of a welcome.  
  • Our walk down the darkened footpath, was just a taste of the 400 years of silence before the birth of Jesus.  
  • That we needed to reach out, and engage with events in order to get the most of our evening, just as we need to take the opportunity to reflect on why Jesus was born, and consider how it will shaper our thoughts and actions.
  • When I am ringing, and in the right place it all makes sense. A parallel in miniature, of events of the first Christmas, that in isolation appeared to be totally random.

Keep watching and waiting this Advent, and walking towards the light.