Reflections - Week 14

Derbyshire Rural Chaplaincy final ‘Thought for the Week’ 

By: Rev’d Alan Griggs (Lead Rural Chaplain – Derbyshire)
22nd June 2020

As society slowly begins to ‘unlock’ this is our final ‘Thought for the Week’. I want to thank everyone that has contributed. The Coronavirus crisis has caused us to touch on so many different themes and It’s been wonderful to get a wide range of thoughts and reflections.

We have touched on the increased sense of community spirit and how the Coronavirus might be changing us all for the better, and we have a new respect for those that care for others that protect life. The way the Coronavirus restrictions have forced us to slow down and be still for a while. We have touched on the use of technology to help us all stay connected with admirable efforts to continue community worship as we journeyed through Easter in a very different way and enjoyed the ‘virtual’ Tissington well dressings. And, how hope remains in the face of great uncertainty with a sense that new beginnings have come despite Farmer Geddon sometimes passing on a tractor yelling “the end of the world is nigh!”. Or was that part of the media?! Yet, the Coronavirus does feel like the end and the beginning of an era. Perhaps a global virus that ignores human distinctions should call for a new (or old) ethic which seeks the good of all without distinction?  

As I write this final reflection, beyond Coronavirus, there are significant challenges ahead for the farming industry. The possibility of cheap imports into the UK of chlorinated chicken and hormone fed beef are on the horizon, undermining the high standards of British farmers. This is an issue that is pulling people together, and as I write, the NFU’s online petition is just 7000 singnatures short of 1 million. This is a critical issue that strikes at the very heart of the farming industry and will impact on the well being of the farming community which is our focus in the Rural Chaplaincy.

So, as we conclude our final reflection, I’m thankful that in times of great challenge we pull together. There’s no doubt there will be more challenges ahead for the farming industry and wider society, yet we have seen the power and importance of community to overcome. There’s a reading from the New Testament letter to the Corinthians, that talks about the church as the body of Christ saying:  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. An ancient ethic to come together, support eachother, and value life. Perhaps, these last few months have helped us all realise, we’re all connected without distinction and we can all make a difference in making life better. Oil Painting by Lesley Griggs of Kedleston Hall Lake, Derbyshire

And, a final picture from Lesley Griggs (my Mum) still painting (Kedleston Hall Lake) and a poem by our wonderful Derbyshire poet Philip Holland, two ways of making life a little bit better.

And how do you see?

by F. Philip Holland Op.0279, 36L, 18.08.2013

And how do you see farming land?

Organic? Government committee-planned?

Our heritage, though owned by few?

Preserving old and shunning new?

The farmer sees a chance to grow,

how to nurture, reap, and sow,

when to breed, or buy, or sell,

a fair reward by labouring well.


And how do you see the noble hills?

Spring flowers' stir, lark's high thrills?

Rambling round to enjoy the view?

With solitude to think things through?


The farmer sees his monthly bills,

walls to mend, some fresh molehills,

makes note of what he needs to do,

needs more hours, finds far too few.


And how do you see verdant fields?

Villages with no church-bell peals?

Wide open spaces?, Free to run?

We deserve a cloudless sky of fun?


The farmer accepts the seasons' yields,

the up-and-down of market deals.

Puts up with snow and parching sun,

toils from dawn till day is done,


And how do you see your precious food?

Because-we're-worth-it? Barbecued?

Preserved by "E"s, and flavour-lacked?

Costly, "Best-Before", and plastic-packed?


The farmer sees his produce sold,

gets little thanks, and rarely told

who eats his generous, vital store,

yet he turns round and grows some more,


Opinions differ; each to his own,

Can we justify our need to moan?

So cherish God's earth, be responsible.

Remember 'thank you' when your belly's full.

©F. Philip Holland, Five-Bar-Gate Publishing, 2020