St. Michael’s Vicarage, Alnwick
August 2021

Dear People of Alnwick,

I want to begin by thanking many of you for your cards, good wishes and the assurance of prayers during my recent, somewhat unexpected, bout of chickenpox. How I wish I’d experienced this illness as a child rather than at this stage in my life. To be certain, it takes much more effort (and a deal of patience) to recover for those of us who fall into the category ‘of riper years’.

Being laid low did, however, help me to realise how much of our lives we take for granted; perhaps, even, assume as our right. Chief of these must be our health.

My morning routine has always been to get out of bed, jump into the shower, get shaved and dressed and then be ready for what the day brings. Just at the moment, by the time I get to the end of those simple tasks I’m quite exhausted. I know, of course, that each day will see me getting a little stronger and that my supplies of energy will increase but I have resolved to try and be more thankful for such simple yet profound good fortune.

Thankfulness really does need to pervade every aspect of our being. We have a roof over our heads; there is food in our stomachs; we know love and companionship from family and friends; as lockdown eases, we are increasingly free to go where we want and see whom we will.

Equally, in our lives of faith, we have untold freedom to worship without hindrance: a right which is still denied to many across our world. So let’s not take that wonderful freedom for granted either. Rather, let us be thankful for all that is good and, more importantly, to actively seek out and enumerate each day the good fortune that is ours.

I worry that a perfunctory ‘nod’ to God that ‘all is well’ each day has been my attitude for far too long and am increasingly convinced that a real acceptance of his goodness and his bounty should feature much more in my prayers.

In sickness and in health we can, I am convinced, train ourselves to accentuate the positive.

With Jane, I used to visit a former parishioner of hers who, bent double with arthritis, had been bedridden for many years. In a residential home, with a brick wall for a view, that dear lady gave thanks each day for the tree behind the wall as she watched the buds appear in springtime, then the blossom and then the glorious colours of autumn.

And so I lay before you, too, the suggestion that we should actively look for reasons to be thankful and praise God for our good fortune.

With every blessing,


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