Monday, 1 April 2002

Two halves that make one whole

Hopefully you will receive this magazine in time for me to wish you a Happy Easter.  If so then there will also be plenty of time for you to wish me a happy birthday – yes, I will be exactly half way to three score years and ten on 6th April 2002. 
As I have already mentioned in Church, this would seem to be a good time to have a mid-life crisis.  (I keep waking up in a cold sweat, in my dream I had my crisis when I was about seventeen-and-a-half – it reminds me of that joke about the man who went to see the Doctor: the bad news was that he had to take a tablet a day for the rest of his life; the ‘good’ news was that the doctor only gave him 7 tablets.)
To make matter worse, I recently went on one of those running machines and set it to recreate the pace at which I last ran the 800 metres when I was at school (aged about 17½); I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t begin to keep up with myself.
I suppose 70 isn’t reckoned to be that old these days, generally speaking, but (more computer generated statistics…) during the time that I have been vicar here, the average age of death for (CofE) people in the parish is only 74.  Though to put it another way, I have taken over 175 funerals since arriving in the parish and if you laid the life spans of those people end to end you would get a total of over 13,000 years!  Just think of all the accumulated experience, thought and wisdom those years contain.
Lent begins, for the enthusiasts at least, with the ash cross on the forehead and the thought provoking words “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return”.  It ends with the story of the empty tomb - the space where everyone expected a full stop
Perhaps it would be an idea if only those who had received and saved their ash cross were allowed into church on Easter Sunday.  Perhaps not!  But both are needed to sum up our lives: We are creatures of this earth, but sons and daughter of God as well.  We find ourselves constrained by time but we also belong to eternity.

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