The Rector Writes…
Usually, at this time of year, folk are looking forward to their holidays, and I hope that some of you, in the months ahead, are able to get away somewhere safely.
For many of us, holidays this year may be just a day out or a walk around the garden! I must admit, it was a real privilege recently to go to Skegness for the day… just to see the sea and buy a bag of chips! I have always found being at the coast an uplifting and revitalising experience, and if Alyson and I were going away this year for our holidays it would be somewhere near the sea.
A couple of years ago I bought a National Trust book of poems about the sea, and found in there my childhood favourite poem… “Sea Fever”…
“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my shoes and socks there - I wonder if they're dry?”
Sorry… I couldn’t resist that! That’s Spike Milligan’s send-up of John Masefield’s actual poem…
“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”
I suppose the poem reminds me of a number of things… my father’s tales of his life in the Merchant Navy, watching the raising of Henry VIII’s flag-ship the Mary Rose, seeing the wreck of the Titanic on TV when it was first filmed, as well as trips to the seaside when I was a youngster living in Leicester.
Some years ago Alyson and I were fortunate to visit the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Seeing it from a helicopter was spectacular, but viewing the reef from a glass-bottomed boat was really quite disappointing because, where we were, the reef was really quite bleached and colourless.
Environmentalists and naturalists like David Attenborough, are telling us about the dangers of global warming and its effect on the seas and their plant and animal life. But how seriously do we take what they’re saying?
A while ago I was watching a programme about the plastics in the oceans and rivers of our world. That was just before the pandemic. The sight of plastic bags and other plastic refuse in amazing rivers like the Nile was really quite distressing.
Then I read a report by an organisation called “Waste Free Oceans”, which said that the disposable masks we are wearing for Covid will take at least 450 years to degrade… 450 years! “Time Team” in the 2060s will be excavating them and questioning whether they’re some cultic object used by our ancestors in their worship rituals. 450 years!? So they’ll still be around in our oceans and land-fill sites or just where they were dropped until the time of our great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandchildren…. and, if that doesn’t scare us, I don’t know what will!
In the Book of Genesis, we have two stories about God creating the earth, and the version in Chapter 1 tells us that as God created each aspect of the earth and life on it, “God saw that it was good”. The world God has given us is a precious gift for us to look after, and, even at this time of pandemic, we need to remember that and take it seriously.
As James B Irwin, in Apollo 15 on the way to the Moon in August 1971, noted: "As we got further and further away, [the Earth] diminished in size. Finally it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate, that if you touched it with a finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a (person)”.
The Revd Kevin Ashby