Rector's Letter November 2000

I enjoy the Rectory garden in the autumnů as long as I've got a decent pair of wellies! The leaves start to fall off the trees, and I can see Mow Cop, Congleton Edge and The Cloud emerge from behind the foliage for the first time since spring.

It's a time for tidying up, and it looks like my purchase of a chainsaw earlier in the year will prove a good investment! There's a lot for it to go at, not least the rampant Rhododendron that choke the eastern end of the garden.

I end up having a bit of a history lesson. In the roots of one of the Rhododendron we found an old bottle. It looked like it could have been there since the Victorian period itself when the purple flowering ponticum variety was so widely introduced to domestic gardens. Its ruthless vigour has been a headache for estate managers ever since. One impenetrable bush turned out to be hiding an entire stone garden seat!

Several fine Yew trees are reminders of an earlier period in the Rectory garden's life-story. Measurement of their girth (the most reliable way of dating a Yew) suggests they are all around 250-300 years old. That takes us right back to 1706 when the Rectory was built. Unlike many of the Rhododendron, the Yew will definitely be spared the attentions of my chainsaw apart from the necessary pruning!

Thinning out the Holly at the south end of the garden by the school path, I took a moment to count some growth rings. Sixty years. This tree began its life as the garden provided a playground for evacuees early in the Second World War.

Yes, this autumn the Rectory garden has shared some of its memories with me. But as I take off my wellies on a Sunday afternoon and pull on some footwear more suitable for Evensong, my mind will turn to memories again. The feast of All Souls at the beginning of November will call us to remember loved ones we've lost. And of course there will be Remembrance Sunday itself. Despite the passage of years, the power of this day seems to increase rather than diminish.

To prepare for the future you need to understand the present. To understand the present, you need to remember the past. That's why you'll find your Bible full of the language of past and future, memories and hopes, loss and restorationů And even though there is no mention of chain saws, there is the image of God who with great care tends the garden of our lives, pruning and planting, uncovering and restoring, as seasons turn and the years pass by.

God bless you all, 

                   Jeff Cuttell.


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