Being ‘FINE’

St. Michael’s Vicarage

Dear People of Alnwick,

How are you?

That feels like the most appropriate thing I can ask as the clocks go back, the dark nights descend and the prospect of a difficult winter lies ahead.

But then, a slightly different question comes to mind.

How are you – really?

So many of us are able, even in the most trying of circumstances, to ‘put on a brave face’ and give people the answer we think they really want to hear:

“I’m fine, thanks. How are you?”

After more than twenty years I can still recall that, as my year group was preparing to leave theological college and begin our lives as curates, the Principal invited a well-known and very experienced clergyman to talk to us about parish life.

“Beware,” he said “when, standing in the porch saying goodbye to people as they leave church on a Sunday, someone asks: ‘And how are you?’

Your immediate response will be you say, ‘I’m fine, thank you!’ Remember – FINE stands for FRUSTRATED, INSECURE, NEUROTIC and EXHAUSTED!”

As we get used to the restrictions of life in ‘Tier Two’ mode (and with the threat of ‘Tier Three’ never far away) none of us should feel embarrassed, foolish or less than perfect if we admit to being any – or all – of those four things.

The simple truth of the matter (and you don’t really need me to remind you of this) is that this awful virus, and all its horrible consequences, has been with us now for nine months.

During that time – and to varying degrees, of course – most of us will have been challenged, inconvenienced, felt lonely and isolated, worried about family and loved ones, been ill ourselves and possibly experienced bereavement.

I have no magic answers that will take this situation away – and I know that telling you others are experiencing the same sort of thing doesn’t help your own situation.

So, please, remember what ‘FINE’ stands for. Feel free to ring the Vicarage ‘phone  number. It might be me who answers – or it might be Jane. We’re often FINE ourselves but we’re both good listeners!

Remember, too, that God is with us in every step we take. He knows our thoughts, he understands our feelings and wants to share our burdens.

Whatever the future has in store for us, God continues to hold each and every one of us in the palm of his hand – and, for that alone, we must give thanks.

With every blessing,


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