Vicar's Letter - 18.02

       Vicar’s Letter – Stay Close

Well, we have passed the very shortest days of the winter but just this week I was caught out again by the early dusk and had to take the dog out for a walk in near darkness. As we trudged through the mud in the gloom, wellies being the best footwear for a while now, I noticed something different.

Usually when we go for a walk around the allotments our chocolate Labrador, Lottie, is very happy to hang back and search for good things to smell or linger over. But in the dim darkness she stayed much closer.

My thoughts on our walks are usually turned towards prayers and so I don’t mind not having her close. Every so often I turn to see where she is and have to shout into the distance if she is not to be seen. Then there is the wait for her to appear from behind a gorse bush or around the corner of the path. Sometimes I spot something in our path that I know will distract her, deer being the obvious example. As long as she is close enough it is easy to guide her around them to ensure that neither she nor the deer are bothered by a close encounter.

On one occasion last summer I strayed off our usual path and she walked right past me. As I rejoined the path and turned back to look for her we ended up in very different directions and a few words were said under my breath before we were finally reunited.

But on this evening she stayed close. We could talk as we went along and her dark form was never too far away, which actually made for a much shorter walk without the stops for her to catch up.

It made me think about my walk with God. For most of the time I know that he is with me to guide and lead me along the paths that lead to life. But the times when I need him most are when the deeper type of darkness appears. When I am in danger of losing my bearings or I am unsure of what step to take next then I instinctively come closer to him.

I am sure the path that he leads me on is one that keeps away from unhelpful distractions. Looking back I can see that when I have had times of trouble it is usually because I have lost sight of him and not the other way around. Many of the Old Testament prophets called his people to walk again with God instead of straying into idol worship and seeking after other gods. In a complex and confusing world perhaps we all need to be reminded what the prophet Micah says that the Lord requires of us: ‘To love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with our God.’

May the God of all joy and hope be with us,                               Neil

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