Rector's Letter - March  2001

My Dear Friends,

 Don't forget Mothering Sunday later this month - please!  I did.  Just once.  Fortunately Mum in her generosity was less worried about it than I was.  Before her friends came round she went to the cupboard, selected her favourite Mother's Day card from previous years and filled the empty space on the sideboard with that one instead.

 When I first left home at the age of 18, I used to get what my brother and I called "Red Cross parcels": Cardboard boxes full of Rich Fruit Cake, tinned peaches and salmon, digestive biscuits, a small bottle of Scotch.  And if there was any danger of being underfed whilst away from home, it was more than made up for by the food heaped upon a groaning table on my return.  I've always thought the Gospel Reading for Mothering Sunday so appropriate: the feeding of the 5000.  It always makes me think of my Mum!  I've been married 20 years.  I have my own children now.  But still, every time I see my Mum and Dad, out comes the Red Cross parcel!

 A few years ago I saw a TV programme.  They showed an experiment I have to admit to finding somewhat distasteful.  They took two small baby monkeys.  One was raised with its mother, but the other had its mother replaced by a stuffed toy monkey.  The baby was fed from its simulated breast, used to run to it and cling for comfort and warmth, but of course it was just a stuffed toy.  Unsurprisingly, that monkey became maladjusted, anxious and deeply unhappy.  I felt rather cross with the experimenters. Wasn't it obvious?  There is no substitute for love and care.  The stuffed toy version just isn't enough.

 Everyone needs to feel in some way that there are human relationships where they'll always be loved.  It's often Mothers that bring this into our lives.  But it doesn't have to be.  It can be other family members, friends and neighbours, even professional carers.

 Two of the world's greatest ever women must be Florence Nightingale and Mother Theresa of Calcutta.  Neither had Children.  Neither married.  But through their calling they loved and they cared.  And their lives were God's gift to countless thousands.  They healed people's souls as well as nursed their bodies.  That's what love does, it heals souls - not least the love of God who loved the world so much he didn't send a Red Cross parcel, he sent his Son.

 So, this Mother's Day, I must say another thank you to my Mum for all those Red Cross Parcels.  We never really did need themů but we needed what they represented.

                  Jeff Cuttell


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