As I write this, the sky outside the Rectory is a myriad of colour. The sun has gone and it is that time between darkness and daylight when they clash together to produce the most picturesque shades. It’s as if one is fighting against the other. But in the end, one has to win this contest and allow the other to retreat gracefully, to return a few hours later.
The well-known phrase, ‘the nights are fair drawin’ in’, is a simple and accurate way of describing what takes place every 24 hours, of every day of every week, month and year, since the dawn of existence. Yet it still has the amazing capacity to surprise us even though we are fully aware of the inevitability of the movement of time.
The same applies to our seasons, we are now moving through autumn with winter just around the corner and we prepare, as we always do, by adjusting how we dress, the things we eat, the plans we make. We will ‘hunker down’ for the colder weather as we always do and we will see it through until the spring, and so it goes on.
This year, however, will be more challenging for many of us, than any time most of us have ever known. The horrendous increase in gas and electricity bills has caused everyone to take a deep breath and wonder what the priorities will be in our personal lives. Some even need to decide whether to heat or eat. I cannot believe that in 2022, in one of the richest counties in the world, people are even having to consider this option.
Normally when price rises to utilities are made, it is always the lower paid who suffer most. However, the recent increases have widened the net to include many of those for whom previous rises were tolerable and within budgets. No longer are those of us who have managed, over the years, to absorb such increases, immune anymore. And it’s not just residential properties that are suffering, businesses are beginning to flounder badly with the huge rises announced.
Yes, the new Prime Minister has made some in-roads to try and alleviate the problem, but many of us are already feeling the drain financially and we worry what the future will hold. Interest rates are very steadily rising, which has a real knock-on effect to every aspect of our lives. The price of petrol/diesel is at an all-time high and again, the requirement to make decisions as to whether we should use our cars as often as we do needs to be high on the agenda.
All of the above is very gloomy and I have no doubt that you are fed up hearing about it, but we cannot ignore it and it will not just go away overnight. The current conflict in Ukraine has, most certainly, made an impact on the massive changes we have witnessed in the past several months, and I know that there are people in that troubled part of the world who would gladly swap places with us in a heartbeat. Should we be ashamed of ourselves for worrying about our own self-preservation whilst there is a war raging in Ukraine? Some/many would say ‘yes’. Some/many would say ‘no, why should we be ashamed, none of this is our fault’.
Are these things cyclical? We have been involved in many conflicts in the past, post World War Two, and I cannot recall in my own lifetime, such massive change in the world economy, which in turn makes everyone concerned about how it will all pan out in the end, if it ends at all.
One thing is certain though, change will come: it has to, otherwise we will witness public unrest on a scale very few of us have seen. Don’t get me wrong here, I do not advocate public disorder in times of national crisis or at any time, but there is a saturation point and when the pressure gets too much, the release of it may not be pretty.
Closer to home we hear that The Rt Rev’d Anne Dyer has now been suspended from her role of Bishop of this Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney whilst a full and open investigation is carried out into allegations made against her. You must remember this word, ‘allegations’, none of which are proven. We see national and local media doing their very best to muddy the waters by misleading and inaccurate reporting, whilst those who made the allegations remain unnamed. Not so for Bishop Anne. The College of Bishops state that suspension ‘does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed’ and that it is a right and proper method to allow the investigative processes to move forward. Think about that, ‘does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed’. Bishop Anne is currently not allowed to contact any clergy in her Diocese, she cannot use her work email, she cannot make any suggestions as to how her diocese is being run, there is even a suggestion that she may not even be allowed to attend worship at any church in her diocese, and yet the decision to suspend her by a 3-2 majority, ‘does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed’. Try telling the media that, try telling those who may well be happy at this outcome that. It is a sad and sorry mess and I often struggle at how people can be so cruel and determined to destroy a fellow human being, yet claim, in many cases, to be wholly Christian whilst doing so.
This report has been somewhat gloomy at best, and I apologise if it doesn’t meet with your acquiescence, but please remember, in this instance, I speak for myself, therefore the opinions expressed here are mine, and mine alone. I fully respect those who will have differing viewpoints.
My wife Sam and I would like to send our prayers to everyone who reads this magazine and we hope that if things get too difficult for you, you should know that we are here to listen, never to judge, to love and never to hate, to laugh and cry when you laugh and cry.
Many blessings to you all.