Rector's Letter - December 2002

 Strolling up to the Rectory I was alarmed to discover my wife's car was missing.  She was out, and that meant so was I, for the duration.  My house-keys were safely tucked away in a jacket pocket hanging in the Vestry, but by now the Church was as securely and firmly locked as the Rectory.  "Ah well" I thought, "at least I won't be cold".  I was warmly wrapped beneath a cassock, surplice, purple stole and a heavy woollen cloak - all eminently suitable attire for the task I had just completed - an interment of ashes on a cold November day.

 "Liz will be back soon" I told myself.  She was only taking the children to Scholar Green after all.  I wrapped my cloak around me, sat down on the steps, and munched a Rectory apple.  At first it was all quite serene.  Here, in the middle of a busy day, was the imposed gift of stillness.  But after 40 mins, my serenity had ebbed away along with most of the warmth from my buttocks.  I now realised that rather than returning home, my wife would be strolling down the aisles of Tesco's!

 So, I now faced the prospect of at least an hour on the Rectory steps. Our neighbour holds a spare key but he was out for Sunday Lunch.  Drastic action was called for.  It was time to break in!  Despite an unfortunate record of recent injury, the prospect of flinging myself through a window seemed infinitely preferable to another hour of inactivity.

 After a moment's investigation, the downstairs loo window was found to be invitingly open.  Standing on a garden chair I peered into the small cubicle to find an excited Alsation returning my gaze.  The window stood 4ft from the ground, measured 10" by 18"… and I was going through it!  Now, I'm not over-large, but dressed in full ecclesiastical garb it was going to be quite a tight squeeze.  There was only one way for a Para to tackle it I told myself - headfirst.  Sixty seconds later I was suspended by my cloak upside down with an excited dog licking my face.  I imagined the headlines: "Rector drowns in own lavatory", perhaps accompanied by an editorial: "Mystery deepens as parishioners remain curiously unsurprised".  Two inches from my nose, a cocooned fly hung in a spider's web.  "I know how you feel", I thought.

 My extrication had little dignity or athleticism about it.  After hanging like a bat for a few minutes I eventually slid slowly to the floor, thankfully managing to avoid the open toilet bowl.  A minor triumph.  I had suffered loss of pride, physical effort and considerable discomfort, but for all that I would sooner be inside nursing my bruises than sat outside like a pudding still waiting.

 A few minutes later, accompanied by some cheese & crackers, I sat down to work on my sermon for Evensong: the Narrow Way.

 Christ calls us to choose the pathway of discomfort and renounced pride, to turn the other cheek and pray for our enemies, to overcome evil with good, to forgive seventy times seven, to sell our goods and give to the poor, to lose our life for the Gospel.  Not once in all it's pages does the book laid-out in front of me ever say the path of the Christian disciple is easy… just better.

 I closed my bible stood up and walked away munching my crackers.  "I've already got my sermon for tonight", I thought.

 Jeff Cuttell.

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