30th March 2020

Dear Friends,

I do hope this finds you all safe and well as we enter Week 2 of the national lockdown.   Last week has seemed almost surreal at times as we have not been allowed to venture very far from our homes and then for only basic food shopping and medicines.   More than one farmer has remarked to me how fortunate they are to have fields across which to wander and take their daily exercise.  But others have also compared this time of crisis with the Second World War or the dreadful outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease nearly 20 years ago.

As part of my exercise (!), I was turning over the vegetable plot a few days ago and I heard the mewing cry of a buzzard.  It being a fine afternoon, I looked up expecting to see the bird soaring in the skies, circling ever higher.  But the mewing was more distressful than for any pleasure; the buzzard was being mobbed by two rooks which succeeded in chasing the buzzard away as it came lower and lower in an attempt to avoid the rooks.

Sometimes life can seem a bit like it was for that buzzard.  Especially in these difficult times of police checks on movements, either in person or by drone, we can feel haunted and dragged ever lower as life continues.  It may not even be Covid-19 which is causing our distress; it can so easily be aspects of life beyond the present lockdown.  But the buzzard escaped….

For Christians, Sunday, 29th March 2020 marked the beginning of Passiontide, a time when the focus of worship and thought turns to the Passion of Our Lord Jesus.  We are still working our way through Lent, but the last two weeks of Lent concentrate on the end of Jesus’ life on earth.  These were turbulent times in Jerusalem:  the city was busy for the Passover Festival of the Jews and there was fear of rioting and political trouble.  Both Temple and Government decided to rid themselves of Jesus and so he was crucified on what today we call Good Friday.   But the Good News is that God raised Jesus from the dead, leaving an empty tomb for the disciples to find on what we call Easter Sunday.   As we work through these weeks of hardship and isolation, let us remember that God is still in control and Jesus is alive in heaven and, in faith, we, too, can experience the promise and peace of Easter now.  Whatever befalls us, Jesus, in his compassion for each one of us will not desert us.  Wherever we find ourselves at the moment, He is with us and will remain with us now and for eternity.

As we continue through Spring with new lambs and other small offspring entering our world, perhaps these too can bring hope and we can find peace in the beautiful countryside in which we work as we journey through the present crisis.

May God bless us all as we face the unknown of the future.