St Leonard's Church

Sherfield-on-Loddon, Hampshire


Minister’s Letter

I’m full of admiration for people who can write pieces regularly for magazines, newspapers and so on; or those who come on the radio at the drop of a hat, or so it seems, and comment at some length on this or that topic. Not me, I’m afraid. I need to walk through the wood and pick up little sticks from someone else’s tree and keep a little pile ready for the fire. Then I need to sort the little piles and find a spark in order to light my little fire. Of course it soon goes out; after ten or twelve minutes if it’s a sermon, or just a few hundred words if it’s a ‘Minister’s Letter’ for the front of The Link.

This month I got lucky. I found a ready-made fire, sent to me by a friend some years ago. So, sit back, I think this will warm your toes – and warm your heart.

A ninety two year old well poised lady, who is always fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with make-up applied – even though she is blind – moved to a Nursing Home. Her husband of seventy years died recently, making the move necessary. After waiting patiently in the lobby she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she manoeuvred her walker to the lift I described her room – the curtains, the patterned pillow slips, two beautiful pictures - “I love it “she interrupted, with the enthusiasm of an eight year old having just been presented with a new puppy. “But you haven’t seen it yet”, I said, “just wait”.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it!” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on what’s in it and how it’s’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift and as long as I’m alive, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank withdraw from what you’ve put in. So my advice is to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories.

So thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank. I am still depositing. And I have five simple rules:

Free your heart from hatred

Free your mind from worries Live simply

Give more

Expect less”.

I like to think we have two Bibles. The Bible – the one we read and hear in church; this is the story of God and us. How we understand God; how God has constantly led us, especially through Jesus, to greater and greater truth. Secondly there’s the bible of life; what we experience and learn of God throughout our lives. The story of the ninety two year old lady and her prompts about how to live, would find a place in my ‘bible of life’. It should come as no surprise that her ‘simple rules to be happy’ are echoed in Jesus’ teaching. Just reach now for a Bible and take a look at Matthew chapter 6.

Enjoy your two Bibles