Vicar's Letter - January 2017

Vicar’s letter – From Anxiety to Attentiveness   

As we enter another New Year I wonder what your priorities and plans are for the next twelve months. Turning into the next calendar year gives us an impetus to make decisions about how we will live. Many people, I am told, take up gym membership with special discounted rates to tempt them along.

One of the things that I long for is a less anxious approach to life. One of the growing features of our driven, utilitarian culture is anxiety. Anxiety is produced by uncertainty and fear. In our society there has been a troubling erosion in confidence in those institutions that were meant to provide support and protection. A whole series of scandals has hugely damaged our trust in those who we thought were there to look after us.

Then on top of this we have a global media network that brings us news of every bad thing that happens across the world. I was struck by the account of a newspaper reporter who turned up at a big scout camp to file a story. He asked those in charge if any of the boys had had any serious injuries or broken bones. When the answer was negative he left disconsolate. For him only bad news was news and he had no capability of reflecting on all the good things that were happening as the young people enjoyed their time together. We now hear of every train crash, even in deepest rural India, and every act of random violence across the planet. There are many challenging threats on an international scale and so we make choices that show that we long for more control over our lives. It may be that anxiety has a part to play in the massive increase of depression that we see across our society. Fears induce chemical changes within us that pull us into that dark place that is so hard to escape.

There was a man called Jesus who came with a message of hope for those in darkness. One of the things that he said was that we should not worry about the stuff that we cannot change. His advice was to be attentive to the good things that go on around us, to consider the flowers of the field and the birds of the air. He encouraged us to look for the good that happens all the time – to be attentive to the small and ordinary things that we so often miss.

Do we sometimes get so caught up in what is going wrong that we fail to appreciate what is going right? Each day contains so many gifts of love in a stranger’s smile or a friend’s kind word. Each moment gives us the chance to look around and see the wonder of this world that we are part of. This is not to say that we sit back and relax while things around us fall apart but that we should seek to balance our lives and not let our anxieties drive our daily choices or decisions.  

May the peace of God still all our anxious hearts.                       Nei

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